Awareness is Key to Healthy Posture

Awareness is Key to Healthy Posture
Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted September 01, 2017

What is Posture?

Two types of posture are dynamic posture and static posture.

Dynamic posture is defined as how you position your body while you are moving, such as when you are walking or bending over to pick up something.

Static posture refers to how you hold your body when you are not moving, such as when you are sitting, standing, or sleeping.

Posture involves your musculoskeletal system, which includes your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves that connect the parts of your body.

Why is Posture Important?

Posture is important because scientists are finding that the ways you hold your body while going through your day affect your health over a lifetime.

For example, holding your body and moving in unhealthy ways may lead to back, neck, and shoulder pain. In any three-month period, about one in four adults in the U.S. has at least one day of back pain, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Poor posture can decrease your flexibility, how well your joints move, and your balance. Slumped posture can make it more difficult to digest the food you eat and to breathe comfortably.

Some research suggests a link between posture and mental health, according to NIH researchers. For example, scientists are exploring the connections between posture and how the brain thinks and processes information.

Awareness is Key

When you are learning how to become aware of your posture, it is best to begin with small steps. NIH researchers suggest that you become mindful (that is, aware) of how you hold your body and how you move. The following suggestions are steps in the right direction.

  • When you walk, become aware that lifting your head will improve your posture and may increase your confidence.
  • When you walk or sit, become aware that pulling back your shoulders will help you to feel more comfortable.
  • In everyday situations, become aware that tightening your abdominal muscles will strengthen them and lead to greater flexibility.
  • When sitting in front of a computer, become aware that stretching your muscles gently and taking brief walks around the office will increase your energy and will help to straighten your posture.
  • Become aware of how your weight may affect your posture. Overweight weakens your abdominal muscles, contributing to poor posture and low back pain.

Medical doctors, physical therapists, and other healthcare providers can give you feedback on how you are moving.

Ask your medical doctor about the types of physical activity that may help you to become more aware of your posture, so that you can maintain your health and mobility over your lifetime.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Selected Information Resources

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. OrthoInfo. Warm Up, Cool Down, and Be Flexible.
Summary Note: Discusses flexibility and balance training as part of a fitness program. Describes sample stretching exercises with accompanying images of correct postures.
(Accessed 28 August 2017)

American Chiropractic Association. Tips to Maintain Good Posture.
Summary Note: Directions help you to move toward a healthier body posture. Includes instructions on how to correct your posture when standing, sitting, and lying down.
(Accessed 11 August 2017)

National Institutes of Health. NIH News in Health. August 2017. A monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Getting It Straight. Improve Your Posture for Better Health.
Summary Note: Article focuses on news interview clips from NIH physical therapists and researchers. Body awareness and mindfulness (that is, awareness) can help you to learn how to feel what is wrong in your posture, so that you can improve both your physical movement and your emotional state.

National Institutes of Health. NIH News in Health. December 2016. A monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Tai Chi and Your Health: A Modern Take on an Ancient Practice.
Summary Note: Discusses the flowing postures and gentle movements of tai chi, also called, moving meditation. Focuses on improving posture, confidence, and mood.
(Accessed 26 August 2017)

Nemours Foundation. KidsHealth. TeensHealth. Backpack Basics.
Summary Note: Discusses health benefits and problems when using backpacks for school books and supplies. Cautions that not using a backpack properly can lead to bad posture.
(Accessed 27 August 2017)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Workplace Safety and Health. Easy Ergonomics: A Guide to Selecting Non-Powered Hand Tools.
Summary Note: Booklet offers advice on how to prevent musculoskeletal disorders caused by hand tool use in occupational settings. Suggests work tools that require the least continuous force and can be used without awkward work postures. Includes checklist for hand tool selection.
(Accessed 26 August 2017)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthfinder dot Gov. Prevent Back Pain.
Summary Note: Practical advice on how to strengthen your back muscles. Lists risk factors for back pain. Includes section on how Good Posture Can Help Prevent Back Pain.
(Accessed 26 August 2017)

U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Computer Workstations e-Tool. Good Working Positions.
Summary Note: Describes office environment sitting and standing postures that reduce strain on your muscles, tendons, and skeletal system to decrease your risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders. Website tabs link to discussions on positioning of your desk, keyboard, and mouse/pointer, to maintain healthy body postures.
(Accessed 26 August 2017)

 

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Ten Ways to Build Your Social Support Network

Ten Ways to Build Your Social Support Network

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted August 22, 2017

What is a Social Support Network?

A Social Support Network may include your family members, friends, or co-workers who offer you genuine emotional support.

A Social Support Network is different from a support group, which is generally a structured meeting run by a health professional.

Why is a Social Support Network Important?

Scientific studies show that having a strong Social Support Network contributes to mental and physical well-being.

Having strong social support can improve your self-esteem and sense of self-direction. In fact, knowing that you have strong social support can make you more able to cope with problems on your own.

How Do You Start to Build a Social Support Network?

You do not need a large network of friends and family to benefit from social support, according to the American Psychological Association. Your Social Support Network might be a small group of people whom you like and trust.

The goal of your Social Support Network is to reduce your stress level, according to Mayo Clinic staff. So, watch for persons who, in general, are positive, not constantly critical.

Build Your Social Support Network

  • Give Social Support.
    Some studies have shown that to stay healthy in mind and body, it may be more important to give social support to friends and family than to receive it. So, reach out to lend a hand, or to just say, Hello.
  • Make the First Move.
    If you meet someone you think might become a good friend, invite him or her to join you for coffee, or another casual activity.
  • Stay in Touch.
    Answer phone calls and reply to e-mail messages. If someone offers you an invitation and you accept, offer one in return, to let persons know that you care.
  • Pay Attention.
    Be a good listener. Let persons know that you are paying attention, by asking questions or by commenting on what they say.
  • Celebrate Accomplishments.
    When your friends succeed, be happy for them. Celebrate without envy or competition.
  • Show Appreciation.
    Take time to say, Thank You, in person or in a written note. Let friends and family know that you appreciate their thoughtfulness. Be there for them when they need support.
  • Practice Problem-Solving.
    First, try to find ways to solve a problem on your own. Be careful not to overwhelm friends and family.
  • Join a Community Activity or Recreation Center.
    You can make friends while you are exercising in a class or walking on a trail.
  • Volunteer.
    Think of a cause that is important to you and get involved with persons who share similar interests and values.
  • Visit Your Public Library.
    Reference Librarians may help you to find safe local clubs or community groups that meet regularly and match your personal interests.

Research shows that persons who enjoy high levels of social support stay healthier and live longer.

So, do not wait to build your Social Support Network. Begin now.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your medical doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor.

Selected Information Resources

American Psychological Association. APA Help Center. Manage Stress: Strengthen Your Support Network.
Summary Note: Article draws from the APA annual nationwide public survey, called, Stress in America, released in February 2017. Suggests six ways to increase your social support, by both providing and receiving help in our personal interactions.
(Accessed 19 August 2017)

American Psychological Association. Stress in America: Coping with Change. APA Annual Survey: Part 1 and Part 2. Released, 2017.
Summary Note: Survey identifies leading sources of stress among the general public. Part 2 focuses on stress related to Technology and Social Media. Links to topic-specific APA press releases.
(Accessed 21 August 2017)

Cohen, S., Janicki-Deverts, D., Turner, R.B., Doyle, W.J. Does Hugging Provide Stress-Buffering Social Support? A Study of Susceptibility to Upper Respiratory Infection and Illness. Psychological Science. 2015 Feb; 26(2):135-47.
Summary Note: Using a sample of 404 healthy adults, authors examined the roles of perceived social support and received hugs in buggering against interpersonal stress-induced susceptibility to a virus that causes a common cold. Among infacted participants, more-frequent hugs predicted less-severe illness signs. HHS Public Access provides free Full Text article via PubMedCentral.
(Full Text accessed 21 August 2017)

Mayo Clinic. Healthy Lifestyle. Stress Management.
Summary Note: Article discusses benefits of having a network of supportive relationships. Offers practical approaches for building and maintaining your relationships. Includes References.
(Accessed 16 August 2017)

National Institutes of Health. NIH News in Health: A monthly newsletter from the NIH, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. February 2017. Do Social Ties Affect Our Health? Exploring the Biology of Relationships.
Summary Note: Reviews scientific studies showing that people who have larger and more diverse types of social ties tend to have better physical and mental health than people with fewer such relationships. Gives examples of how kindness in social environments, versus hostility in social environments, affects personal health
(Accessed 20 July 2017)

Reblin, M. and Uchino, B. Social and Emotional Support and Its Implication for Health. Current Opinion in Psychiatry. 2008 March; 21(2):201-205.
Summary Note: Summarizes research findings from selected publications focusing on links between social support and physical health. HHS Public Access provides free Full Text article via PubMed Central.
(Full Text accessed 20 August 2017)

 

Reading Literary Fiction Builds Empathy

Reading Literary Fiction Builds Empathy

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted July 17, 2017

What Is Empathy?

Empathy is a complex term that includes the ability to recognize the emotions of other persons and then to respond emotionally to those persons. Empathy includes sympathy and concern for others.

Why is Empathy Important?

Developing empathy as a behavioral skill is important, because empathic behavior creates positive and helpful ways of thinking and acting. Persons who have developed their empathic skills find practical approaches to promote social acceptance and friendship, which are central to a healthy lifestyle.

Empathy helps people to develop a broader range of action skills, leading them to consider more alternatives in finding solutions for complex problems.

Study of empathy is important because people who are highly empathic are more prosocial, which is associated, for example, in the workplace, with creativity, higher performance, and productivity, according to a Public Library of Science 2013 article by researchers P. Matthias Bal and Martin Veltkamp.

What is Literary Fiction?

Literary Fiction refers to narratives, that is, stories, that focus on in-depth portrayals of characters’ inner feelings and thoughts. In Literary Fiction, the characters teach values about social behavior, such as the importance of understanding other persons’ beliefs.

Literary Fiction is different from Popular Fiction, which portrays unrealistic situations with characters whose actions are predictable. Literary Fiction is also different from Nonfiction, which is literature that is not fictional, such as, scientific literature.

How Does Reading Literary Fiction Build Empathy?

Readers who are emotionally “transported” into the fictional story are imaginatively experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and actions of the fictional characters.

When readers identify with a fictional character in a story, they may develop a feeling of sympathy for the character. While reading, the readers are, in effect, “practicing” being empathic.

As readers take the perspective of a character by experiencing fictional events as though they are events happening to themselves, readers are integrating empathy into their own self-concept.

The readers accumulate their ability to take the perspective of others, and, so, to feel empathy for others in their everyday lives, according to Bal and Veltkamp.

How Can You Select Literary Fiction that Helps to Increase Empathy?

Generally, librarians at the Reader Services Desk of your local public library can help you to select Literary Fiction for both adults and youth.

Many of today’s public libraries also offer reading programs and book discussion groups, which offer in-person gatherings where you can share insights, discuss various opinions, and, in turn, enhance your own empathic listening skills.

Selected Information Resources

Bal, P.M., Veltkamp, M. How Does Fiction Reading Influence Empathy? An Experimental Investigation on the Role of Emotional Transportation. PLoS One. 2013;8(1): e55341. Published online 2013 Jan 30.
Summary Note: Two experiments show that when people read Literary Fiction narratives, and they are emotionally transported into the narrative world, they become more empathic over time, according to a study conducted at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Study includes extensive footnotes and references.
(Accessed 07 July 2017. From abstract, link to Free Full Text via PubMed Central or PLoS One, Public Library of Science)

Chiaet, J. Novel Finding: Reading Literary Fiction Improves Empathy. Scientific American. October 04, 2013.
Summary Note: Chiaet discusses the study, titled, Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind, published in the journal Science [see Kidd, D.C., Castano, E., in this list of Selected Information Resources]. Chiaet writes that Emanuele Castano, a social psychologist, and David Kidd, a PhD candidate, The New School, New York City, suggest that the types of books that persons read may affect how the readers relate to other persons.
(Accessed 14 July 2017)

Kidd, D.C., Castano, E. Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind. Science. 2013 October 18;342(6156):377-80.
Summary Note: Theory of Mind is the human capacity to comprehend that other people hold beliefs and desires that may differ from one’s own. This study provides experimental evidence that reading passages of Literary Fiction, as opposed to Popular Fiction or Nonfiction, enhances the reader’s performance on theory of mind tasks.
(Abstract accessed 14 July 2017)

Mar, R.A., Oatley, K., Djikic, M., Mullin, J. Emotion and Narrative Fiction: Interactive Influences Before, During, and After Reading. Cognition and Emotion. 2011. August;25(5):818-33.
Summary Note: Provides snapshot of what is known about the interaction between emotions of readers and Literary Narrative Fiction, before, during, and after reading.
(Abstract accessed 14 July 2017. Full Text available from Taylor & Francis Online by subscription or purchase)

Sasse, Ben. The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017. Hardcover book.
Summary Note: Author discusses economic, social, and technological reasons for why adolescence has become what the author calls, “perpetual.” Book outlines five character-building habits to strengthen self-reliance and the desire and ability to help others. As a way to develop awareness of others’ emotions and intentions, Chapter 8, titled, “Build a Bookshelf,” suggests reading American novels that trace personal journeys. Includes Bibliography.

Resilience: How to Build Your Own Inner Strength

Resilience: How to Build Your Own Inner Strength
Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted June 30, 2017

What is Resilience?

Resilience means being able to adapt to life’s setbacks. Resilience allows you to step back from misfortune, such as an illness, a job loss, or the death of a friend. When you are resilient, your anger, grief, or pain does not go away, but you are able to keep functioning in your everyday life.

You Can Learn How to Build Your Resilience

Research findings show that resilience is most often viewed as a process, rather than a personality trait. Resilience is a learned skill. Therefore, you can build resilience through the process of developing your own mental, physical, and social approaches to daily living. Practicing your own approaches can prepare you for challenges before they occur.

Mental Approaches

  • Count your blessings. Mentally express gratitude for the positive things in your life. Enjoying nutritious food, restful sleep, a safe living environment, and time with friends are a few ways to feel grateful.
  • Show compassion. Say Hello and smile to persons you meet. Open a door for someone who is carrying a heavy package. In a crowded store, excuse yourself if you inattentively bump another shopper.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Think of them as learning opportunities to change your future behavior. Then, when you find yourself in similar circumstances, remind yourself of your past mistake, and practice your changed behavior.
  • Remain optimistic and hopeful about the future. Do not seek perfection, but whenever possible, stay focused on positive emotions.

Physical Approaches

  • Maintain your physical health. Exercise for 30 minutes each day, by walking, or gardening, or taking a yoga class.
  • Make an appointment with your medical doctor for a wellness exam.
  • Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Participate in activities that you enjoy.
  • Get at least seven or eight hours of restful sleep each night. Eat a healthy diet. Practice relaxation techniques, such as prayer or slow breathing.

Social Approaches

  • Stay in regular touch with family and friends. If someone has not contacted you in a while, reach out for a brief talk or get-together.
  • Create a daily sense of purpose. Write a letter or call a community leader about a local event. Volunteer to help a neighbor. Treat yourself to an hour of social relaxation.
  • Seek social support for a challenge you are facing.
  • Build strong positive relationships that you can count on when unexpected frustrations become overwhelming.

Becoming more resilient takes time and practice. Start with small steps. Most important, believe in your ability to build your own inner strength.

For more information, see the Selected Information Resources at the end of this blog post.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your medical doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor.

Selected Information Resources

American Psychological Association. Resilience Guide for Parents and Teachers.
Summary Note: Guide includes tips on how to help children and teens build resilience. Separate sections focus on helping students in preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school.
(Accessed 22 June 2017)

American Psychological Association. Resilience for Teens: Got Bounce?
Summary Note: For a teen audience. Includes Ten Tips to Build Resilience.
(Accessed 22 June 2017)

American Psychological Association. The Road to Resilience.
Summary Note: Brochure helps adults to find their own road to resilience. Defines resilience, describes strategies, and suggests Ten Ways to Build Resilience. Includes links to Related Reading and Geographic Search to find local psychologists.
(Accessed 22 June 2017)

Chawla, L., Keena, K., Pevec, I., Stanley, E. Health and Place. 2014 July;28:1-13. Green Schoolyards as Havens from Stress and Resources for Resilience in Childhood and Adolescence
Summary Note: Observational and interview study of elementary and high school students in Colorado and Maryland describes how green schoolyards can reduce stress and promote protective factors for resilience.
(Abstract accessed 26 June 2017)

MacLeod, S., Musich, S., Hawkins, K., Alsgaard, K., Wicker, E.R. Geriatric Nursing. 2016 July-August;37(4):266-72. The Impact of Resilience among Older Adults
Summary Note: An overview of the scientific literature on resilience reveals that resilience is most often viewed as a process, rather than a personality trait. Identifies key characteristics of resilience.
(Accessed 28 June 2017. From Abstract, link to Free Full Text via ELSEVIER Open Access)

Mayo Clinic. Tests and Procedures. Resilience Training. Resilience: Build Skills to Endure Hardship.
Summary Note: Defines resilience. Offers tips to help build resilience skills. Includes cartoon video [4:23] titled, A Very Happy Brain, narrated by Amit Sood, MD, MSc, Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN. Take-away message is that the pursuit of gratitude and compassion will make you happier than the pursuit of happiness.
(Accessed 27 June 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American College of Physicians Guidelines on Treatment of Low-Back Pain Recommend Complementary Health Approaches

American College of Physicians Guidelines on Treatment of Low-Back Pain Recommend Complementary Health Approaches

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MS/LIS
Posted May 27, 2017

In February 2017, the American College of Physicians (ACP) released new clinical practice guidelines on treatments for low-back pain. The title is, Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline from the American College of Physicians.

The ACP Guidelines on Treatment of Low-Back Pain recommend that physicians should consider turning first to non-medication and non-surgical treatments for patients with low-back pain.

For example, the ACP Guidelines include recommendations for  physicians to consider unconventional interventions, such as, complementary health approaches, including tai chi or acupuncture, before considering current treatments, such as overuse of drugs or surgery.

In general, clinical practice guidelines identify and describe recommended courses of treatment. Guidelines are not statements that must be followed, but are meant for physicians and other primary care providers to consider.

The ACP Guidelines are clear that the evidence for the benefit of complementary practices for back pain is a work in progress.

Still, the ACP Guidelines are very important, because ACP is suggesting major changes in the treatment of a common and costly clinical problem.

Low back pain is one of the most common reasons for physician visits in the United States, according to the ACP Guidelines. Most Americans have experienced low-back pain. The total costs of low-back pain in the United States exceed $100 billion per year. Two-thirds of these costs are indirect, due to lost wages and reduced productivity.

The ACP Guidelines relied in part on research conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), which is the National Institute of Health (NIH) agency with primary responsibility for research on promising health approaches that already are in use by the American public.

For information from NCCIH on health care guidelines, visit the March 02, 2017 NCCIH Research Blog, titled, New ACP Clinical Practice Guidelines on Non-pharmacologic Treatment of Low-Back Pain, by NCCIH Director Josephine P. Briggs, M.D.

For more information on low-back pain, see the Selected Information Resources following this blog post.

Editorial note: By definition, Acute back pain lasts less than four weeks. Subacute back pain lasts four to twelve weeks. Chronic back pain lasts more than twelve weeks.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your medical doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor.

Selected Information Resources

American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine. Clinical Guidelines. April 04, 2017. Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline from the American College of Physicians
Summary Note: Published: Annals of Internal Medicine. 2017;166(7):514-530. DOI:10.7326/M16-2367. Published at www dot annals dot org on 14 February 2017.
(Accessed 06 Ma7 2017)

Devo, RA, Mirza, SK, Martin, BI. Back Pain Prevalence, and Visit Rates: Estimates from U.S. National Surveys, 2002. Spine. 2006 Nov. 1;31(23):2724-7.
Summary Note: Summary of published data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) on the prevalence of back pain, and comparison with earlier surveys. Results show that about one-quarter of U.S. adults report low-back pain in the past three months.
(Accessed Abstract 24 May 2017)

Katz, JN. Lumbar Disc Disorders and Low-Back Pain: Socioeconomic Factors and Consequences. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. American volume. 2006 April;88 Suppl. 2:21-4.
Summary Note: Discusses socioeconomic risk factors for low-back pain in the United States. Examines total costs of low-back pain, including indirect costs due to lost wages and reduced productivity. As costs exceed $100 billion per year, underscores importance of identifying strategies to prevent low-back pain disorders.
(Accessed Abstract 24 May 2017)

Mayo Clinic. Healthy Lifestyle. Adult Health. Back Pain at Work: Preventing Pain and Injury.
Summary Note: Discusses factors that contribute to back pain in various types of work environments. Suggests ideas on how to help prevent pain at work.
(Accessed 22 May 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Five Things to Know about Chronic Low-Back Pain and Complementary Health Practices
Summary Note: Discusses what the science says about various complementary treatment options for chronic low-back pain.
(Accessed 06 May 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. NCCIH Research Blog. March 02, 2017. New ACP Clinical Practice Guidelines on Non-pharmacologic Treatment for Low-Back Pain.
Summary Note: Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., Director, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, discusses the Guideline titled, Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline from the American College of Physicians, published online on 14 February, 2017.
(Accessed 06 May 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). Handout on Health: Back Pain.
Summary Note: The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases is the primary NIH organization for research on back pain. Consumer Handout describes back pain causes, diagnosis, treatments, and research efforts.
(Accessed 23 May 2017)

National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus Back Pain.
Summary Note: Resource includes links to more than 100 reliable websites. Subheadings include Diagnosis, Prevention, Treatments, Videos, Statistics, Clinical Trials, Journal Articles, Women, and Children. Sections also include, Find an Expert, Patient Handouts, and Medical Encyclopedia.
(Accessed 24 May 2017)

National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Medical Encyclopedia. Taking Care of Your Back at Home
Summary Note: Article offers tips on how to handle back pain, including lists of activities that should be practiced or avoided during back pain recovery at home.
(Accessed 12 March 2017)

 

Tips on Selecting a Complementary Health Practitioner

Tips on Selecting a Complementary Health Practitioner

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted April 25, 2017

Background

More than 30 percent of adults and about 12 percent of children use complementary health care approaches, according to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for 2012.

However, there is evidence that persons who use complementary health approaches often do not discuss their use with their medical doctors. Instead, persons often rely on other sources, including family and friends, practitioners of complementary health approaches, the Internet, popular magazines, and advertising.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), which is the Federal Government lead agency for scientific research on complementary health approaches, reminds you that, if you are considering going to a complementary health practitioner, you should tell your medical doctor and other health care providers.

Talking with all of your health care providers will help you to select a complementary health practitioner that is appropriate for your specific medical condition.

Selecting a Complementary Health Practitioner

NCCIH has published a fact sheet titled, Six Things to Know When Selecting a Complementary Health Practitioner

One of the six things in the fact sheet is: Tell all of your health care providers (for example, medical doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist) about all of the complementary approaches you use.

The reason that you need to tell all of your health care providers about your complementary care is that health conditions can affect the safety of complementary approaches. For example, if you have glaucoma, some yoga poses may not be safe for you.

Keeping your health care providers fully informed helps you to stay in control and to manage your health.

For more information, see the Selected Information Resources at the end of this blog post.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your medical doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor.

Selected Information Resources

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s in a Name?
Summary Note: Fact sheet defines terms. Bar graph shows the ten most common complementary health approaches among adults, based on the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).
(Accessed 17 April 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Credentialing, Licensing, and Education
Summary Note: Fact sheet provides an overview of the credentialing of practitioners. One section gives examples of how Licensing Requirements for Complementary Health Practitioners vary from state to state and different practices.
(Accessed 17 April 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Four Tips: Start Talking with Your Health Care Providers about Complementary Health Approaches
Summary Note: Tips on how you can begin a conversation with your health care provider about complementary health approaches.
(Accessed 17 April 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Six Things to Know When Selecting a Complementary Health Practitioner
Summary Note: Tips help to guide your search for a complementary health practitioner.
(Accessed 17 April 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Tips on Complementary Health Practices
Summary Note: Tips help you to understand a therapy’s potential benefits, risks, and scientific evidence, so that you can make informed decisions about health care approaches that are best for your own medical condition.
(Accessed 17 April 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for 2012. Use of Complementary Health Approaches in the U.S.
Summary Note: Highlights key facts about the use of Natural Products and Mind and Body Approaches by American adults and children. One section includes NHIS findings about consumer spending and insurance for complementary health approaches.
(Accessed 24 April 2017)

 

Use Dietary Supplements Wisely

Use Dietary Supplements Wisely

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted March 08, 2017

Background

Many Americans take dietary supplements in an effort to stay healthy. Although high-quality clinical trials (studies in people) have confirmed the benefits of some dietary supplements, key questions remain about the safety and usefulness of others.

Some supplements can play an important role in health. For example, Calcium and Vitamin D are important for keeping bones strong. Pregnant women can take the Vitamin Folic Acid to prevent certain birth defects in their babies.

Some other dietary supplements have been shown to cause serious harm. For example, the herbs Comfrey and Kava can cause severe damage to the liver.

Still other dietary supplements have not gone through high-quality clinical trials, so there is not enough scientific evidence to support their use.

One reason for limited clinical trials is that large carefully controlled medical studies are costly. Clinical trials for conventional drugs are often funded by large companies that develop and sell prescription drugs. Fewer resources are available to support scientific research on many dietary supplements.

Federal Regulation of Dietary Supplements

The Federal Government regulates dietary supplements through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the regulations for dietary supplements are not the same as those for prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

A manufacturer of a dietary supplement does not have to provide the FDA with data that demonstrate the safety of the product before it is marketed. In contrast, manufacturers of drugs have to provide the FDA with evidence that their products are both safe and effective before the drugs can be sold.

Unlike drugs, supplements are not intended to cure, diagnosis, prevent, or treat diseases. This means that supplements should not make claims, such as, reduces pain, or treats heart disease. Claims like these can be made legitimately only for drugs, not dietary supplements.

How to Take a Dietary Supplement as Safely as Possible

A reliable, free, and up-to-date consumer source for information about health issues is the website of MedlinePlus, produced by the National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library.

MedlinePlus publishes health topic pages that you can visit to learn about conditions, diseases, and wellness issues.

For example, the MedlinePlus topic page for Dietary Supplements explains how to take a supplement as safely as possible.

  • Tell your health care provider about any dietary supplements you use.
  • If you are going to have surgery, it is particularly important that you talk with your medical doctor about the dietary supplements that you take.
  • Do not take a bigger dose than the label recommends.
  • Read trustworthy information about the supplement.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) was established to conduct research on the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative interventions, including dietary supplements, and to make the findings available to the public.

The NCCIH has published a free online fact sheet, called Using Dietary Supplements Wisely. The fact sheet provides a general overview of dietary supplements, discusses safety considerations, and suggests sources for additional information.

If you are considering taking a dietary supplement, talk first with your conventional medical doctor. He or she can access information to help you to understand possible risks and benefits before you buy and use a dietary supplement.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your conventional medical doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your conventional medical doctor.

Selected Information Resources

National Health Interview Survey 2012. Use of Complementary Health Approaches in the U.S.
Summary Note: The 2012 National Health Interview Survey provides the most comprehensive information on the use of complementary health approaches in the United States.
(Accessed 06 March 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Five Myths about Popular Natural Products Marketed for Disease Prevention and Wellness
Summary Note: Fact sheet with brief statements about popular beliefs that are myths, related to specific Natural Products.
(Accessed 04 March 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Herbs at a Glance.
Summary Note: Series of fact sheets providing evidence-based information on 50 herbs and botanicals. Fact sheets include common names, potential side effects, what the science says, and resources for more information
(Accessed 04 March 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Understanding Drug-Supplement Interactions
Summary Note: Series of 13 slides asks you true or false questions, followed by correct answers, about your understanding of interactions between dietary supplements and prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
(Accessed 04 March 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Using Dietary Supplements Wisely.
Summary Note: Fact sheet written in plain language to help you to decide whether a dietary supplement is safe or useful. Nine subheadings include Key Points, Safety Considerations, and References. Emphasis is on the need to talk with your doctor before you buy a dietary supplement.
(Accessed 05 March 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Aging. Health and Aging. AgePage. Beware of Health Scams.
Summary Note: Explains why people fall for false sales pitches. Advises how to protect yourself from health scams. Lists helpful resources with addresses and phone numbers. Topic focus is on health and aging, but relevant for adults of any age.
(Accessed 04 March 2017)

National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Dietary Supplements.
Summary Note: Good place to begin learning about the benefits and risks of dietary supplements, with subheadings on Definitions, What You Need to Know, and Specifics on various types of dietary supplements. Includes separate sections on Children, Teenagers, Seniors, and Women.
(Accessed 08 March 2017)

National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements.  Botanical Dietary Supplements.
Summary Note: Explains that the word, natural, on a product label does not necessarily mean, safe. And, the word, standardized, on a label does not necessarily indicate product quality. Encourages you to talk with your healthcare providers (medical doctor, registered dietician, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know.
Summary Note: Explains benefits and risks of dietary supplements. Suggests how to be a Smart Supplement Shopper. Steps on how to Report Problems to the FDA.
(Accessed 08 March 2017)