Exploring Alternative Medicine on the Internet

by Judith Maginnis Kuster - Mankato State University (kuster@mnsu.edu).

Recently on a listserv about stuttering, a subscriber reported receiving treatment using stramonium, chiropractic and therapeutic massage and had "gotten significant relief" from his stuttering. Curious about this combination of treatment strategies, I used an Internet search to discover the growing popularity of some often very old treatment strategies labeled "alternative" remedies. I quickly found that alternative treatments are being used with many of the disorders we treat. The examples below are not endorsements but rather one way to learn more about alternative medicine and how it is affecting our field.

Acupuncture has been used to treat facial palsy, pareses following a stroke, Meniere's disease, and for smoking cessation and stress. See also Acupuncture.com, Margaret Naeser's homepage.

Ayurveda is a holistic approach that employs herbs, nutrition and spiritual counseling that is used to treat addictions, including smoking.

Biofeedback has been used to help stroke survivors regain movement in paralyzed muscles and to help persons learn to relax. Rollnick's bibliography covers biofeedback in treatment of various disorders, including stuttering.

Herbal Medicine, an integral part of treatment in many cultures, matches the therapeutic characteristics herbs to develop an individualized prescription. Licensed naturopathic physicians report successful treatment using Calcarea carbonica with a three year old who stuttered, and suggest Mercurius for stuttering hesitancy, Stramonium for violent, choppy stuttering, Causticum for stuttering after excitement or nervousness, Belladonna for rapid, interrupted speech, Nux vomica for stuttering after overwork or overindulgence, Selenium for a person who says the wrong syllables, and cannot articulate some words, and Aconite when speechless from fright. Homeopathic Treatment of Stuttering

Note: the role of herbal medications in communication disorders has not been thoroughly explored and should not be used in self-treatment. Four of the herbs listed in the internet sites reported in this column are potentially dangerous. Stramonium is a poisonous hallucinogen. Belladonna contains atropine which is poisonous. Nux Vomica contains strychnine, and Aconite can be toxic as well. (information added April 30, 2002 on the appropriate suggestion of Sarah Hardin).

Hypnotherapy is suggested for treating stuttering on a website about Autogenic Training

Reflexology, like chiropractic and massage, is a type of manual healing which applies pressure to the feet. It has been used in China to treat cerebral palsy, coma after drowning, deafness from ototoxic drugs, stroke, and tinnitus and in Denmark for children with ear problems

Other resources to explore

  • Alternative Medicine Digest, an e-publication
  • Alternative Medicine Homepage
  • General Complementary Medicine References.
  • Holistic Oriented Sites & Links
  • Homeopathy Home Page
  • Homeopathic Internet Resources
  • "WHOLE-Health *HOT* Links" delivers links to web sites promoting health in the form of food/nutrition & supplements (vitamins, herbs), excercise/fitness/therapy and mental health. To receive "WHOLE-Health *HOT* Links", send a message to thomasc@servtech.com with the command: subscribe whhl
  • Holistic-L is a closed list for health professionals to discuss alternative health concepts. To subscribe send to Holistic-L@Citadel.Net. In the subject line type join. The text should say join Holistic-L

    Marc Micozzi, editor of the first American medical textbook on alternative medicine, states, "Those who train health-care workers no longer can afford to ignore alternative medicine, especially since clinical evidence is mounting that at least some forms of it may work. What we call 'alternative' remedies are, in fact, used by a third of the people in the United States, by half of those in Europe, and by 80 per cent of people worldwide." (1996). But remember, anyone can put anything on the Internet. There are currently over 10,000 general health information sites and tens of thousands more on specific diseases and conditions. Some suggest alternative medicine for treating speech-language or hearing disabilities. Stephen Barrett, M.D., a retired psychiatrist in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and a nationally renowned author and consumer advocate, hosts a Guide to Health Fraud, Quackery, and Intelligent Decisionmaking providing answers to questions related to consumer health . The United States government has also responded to the overwhelming amount of health-related information on the Internet by launching Healthfinder, a consumer health information web site leading to reliable health information for the public.

    Micozzi, Marc, (1996, August 16) The Need to Teach Alternative Medicine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, p. A48

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    The above information was originally published as
    Kuster, JM, Exploring Alternative Medicine on the Internet, ASHA Magazine, August 1997, p. 47.