Alternative medicine is a mixed bag. Some things sound great, but yield no real effect, and other things sound crazy, but could have a measurable benefit. Wonder what works and what doesn’t? Here are some therapies with science to back them up.
Oil Pulling for Oral Health
You may have read about this Ayurvedic practice recently. It’s been buzzing around the internet. So what is it? You take a bit of oil and swish it around your mouth for about 20 minutes. While traditionally you use sunflower or sesame oil, some recommend coconut oil, or any vegetable-based oil.
It’s supposed to help with your oral health, among other things, and it might well do that. A study that compared chlorhexidine to oil pulling for getting rid of plaque found that the subjects in the oil pulling group reduced their plaque as well as the mouthwash group. In other words, the oil pulling worked.
Yoga to Quit Smoking
We probably don’t have to go into the long list of reasons to quit smoking, but it’s one of the hardest things that people ever do. A pilot study–meaning a small study that usually comes before a much bigger one–might give quitters a new way to tackle that addiction.
The study divided women into two groups: the yoga group and the wellness program group. After 8 weeks, 41 percent of the women in the yoga group passed a test that showed they hadn’t smoked for at least 7 days. Only 13 percent of the wellness group passed that test. The scientists think that yoga helps to reduce some of the negative effects of quitting smoking, like decreasing cravings. Time for smokers to hit the mat and strike a downward dog.
Acupuncture for Chronic Pain
Acupuncture, which involves placing needles at specific “energy points” across the body, has reportedly persisted for thousands of years. Now there is scientific proof that it can help to relieve chronic pain, though how it does so is still a bit of a mystery.
Researchers conducting a review of 29 controlled studies found that acupuncture reduced chronic pain, even when compared to “simulated acupuncture,” where needles were placed in the wrong spots, or rested on top of the skin. The greater difference, though, was in the studies comparing acupuncture to non-acupuncture treatment. It definitely does something, and for people in constant pain, it’s worth a try.