Chat Transcript: Dr. Nancy Snyderman on Alternative Medicine

Alternative medicine, once considered controversial and experimental, is now enjoying a newfound respect within the medical community. More and more doctors trained in Western medicine are allowing alternative therapies — everything from hypnosis to herbs to spiritualism — to be incorporated into their patients’ care. Are many patients embracing alternative medicine as part of modern medical care? How do doctors successfully blend Eastern and Western medicine?

In a three-part series on Good Morning Americathis week, Dr. Nancy Snyderman looks at the state of alternative medicine. After the broadcast, Dr. Snyderman took your questions in an online chat. The chat transcript is below.

Moderator at 2:30pm ET

Welcome Dr. Nancy Snyderman.

Alex Vilaythong from resnet.tamu.edu at 2:31pm ET

Is alternative medicine safe for children?

Dr. Nancy Snyderman at 2:32pm ET

I don't even like the phrase "alternative medicine" anymore. I think at this point were talking about complementing centuries-old medicine with modern technology, and depending on a child's ailment, complementary medicine can certainly be safe. I have seen children get bone marrow biopsies and have blood drawn while using meditation techniques, and they have had minimal pain, so, in the right circumstance, children can use complementary, or alternative, medicine in much the same way that adults do.

Michele K. Carter RN at 2:33pm ET

In this morning's newscast, during the piece on Dr. Mehmet Oz, I believe he mentioned garlic as being effective for decreasing pulmonary artery pressure. Is there some where to locate published research on this?

Dr. Nancy Snyderman at 2:34pm ET

In fact, I believe Dr. Oz has published research. We know that garlic has a role in treating high blood pressure, and the pressure in the pulmonary arteries should be no exception. Log on to Medscape.com and see if you can find the reference that way.

Rebecca at 2:35pm ET

What can you tell me about Chinese medicine and acupuncture? I hear that it is really effective in treating many things, like migraines, back pain, nausea, smoking, etc. I also hear that it doesn't have the side effects of Western drugs and is cheaper too. Where can I find a good practitioner?

Dr. Nancy Snyderman at 2:37pm ET

First of all, let me tell you that I do believe in acupuncture, and acupuncture, as a treatment, has been used safely and effectively for thousands of years. Doctors are now using acupuncture to treat chronic pain, nausea, migraines, and I use it with many of my cancer patients for a variety of problems. In the Bay area, where I live, it's easy to find acupuncturists. Depending on where you live, you may have to do some digging. Call your local University and check with your county medical society for a referral. It's safe and painless and in many cases can mean throwing your medicines away.

Maggie Coleman at 2:38pm ET

Do you think that if medical doctors start recognizing the value of alternative therapies that insurance companies and HMOs will be more likely to begin paying for alternative therapies?

Dr. Nancy Snyderman at 2:38pm ET

I think the day is coming. The hard sell is convincing corporations and HMOs about the importance of saving money in the long run when everyone is looking at the bottom line. The science will convince them, and the science is there.

Rodney Schwan from san-diego-06-07rs.ca.dial-access.att.net at 2:39pm ET

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