Online Health Chat with Dr. Tanya Edwards
February 17, 2010
Cleveland_Clinic_Host: Research shows that how we live, what we think and how we feel affect our health. While traditional medicine can help diminish the consequences of unhealthy lifestyles, integrative medicine can reverse those consequences, prevent illness and reduce symptoms. Integrative medicine addresses these important aspects of health and focuses on prevention to help you enjoy a better quality of life. It supports the body’s natural ability to heal, reducing stress and promoting a state of relaxation that leads to better health.
Tanya Edwards, MD, M Ed, received her medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1987. She completed the Harvard Macy Physician as Teacher Fellowship at the Harvard School of Education in 1998 and earned a Master’s of Medical Education degree from John Carroll University and Case Western Reserve University in 2002.
For the past 12 years, Dr. Edwards has been teaching complementary and alternative medicine courses at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, where she established the Area of Concentration for Alternative Medicine. She is Faculty Advisor for the medical students’ integrative medicine interest group, as well as the Student National Medical Association. For the last several years, she has been active in integrating complementary medical education into the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University.
Her specialty interests include integrative medicine, family medicine, inflammation, nutrition for the prevention and treatment of chronic illness, the clinical use of nutraceuticals, as well as mind-body therapies.
Cleveland_Clinic_Host: To make an appointment with Tanya Edwards, MD, M.Ed., or any of our other specialists within the Center for Integrative Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, please call 216.986.HEAL(4325). You can also visit us online at clevelandclinic.org/integrativemedicine.
Cleveland_Clinic_Host: Welcome to our Online Health Chat with Tanya Edwards, MD, M.Ed., We are thrilled to have her here today for this chat. Let’s begin with some of your questions.
Overview of Alternative Therapies
JaneR4: Why aren’t doctors taught more about alternative medicine so that we don’t harm ourselves? I meet more doctors who don’t know and won’t recommend herbs, massage, etc. I use herbs successfully, but have studied them. I don’t claim to know it all, it is scary to use herbs at times, but traditional treatments don’t always work for my fibromyalgia and its assorted ailments. We need this type of care paid for by our medical insurance also.
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: The use of complementary therapies represents a paradigm shift for our culture. As with any other paradigm shift, it will happen over decades, not overnight. Keep the faith!
strongheart: It seems that Oncology has embraced Integrative Therapies greater than other specialties. Have you found that to be the case?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: No, that has not been my experience. I would say that "embracing" integrative therapies seems to be occurring on a physician by physician basis - more than on a specialty basis.
strongheart: This whole issue of Medical Marijuana has really caused an uproar lately. In your opinion, are there any health benefits and do you think this falls in the alternative category for some folks?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: It may be invaluable in patients undergoing chemotherapy and I highly recommend it for that reason if obtained legally. It can also be helpful for pain, anorexia and glaucoma.
strongheart: I just heard of a hospice that utilizes a volunteer shaman to do room cleansing after a person departs. Have you any experience with this?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: No direct experience, but I have heard of it too.
strongheart: In your experience, do you believe that hospitals should hire massage therapists as part of the clinical team for in-patients?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: Yes - massage therapists, acupuncturists and Reiki practitioners.
JoanB: Do you have any experience with the emWave biofeedback stress reducing devices?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: Yes - although we are not currently using them here at the Center for Integrative Medicine.
Nubianspirit: Menopause has me all off. I cry for no reason. I want to learn to do Reiki. Will that help with the sadness?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: It may - Acupuncture will probably help even more.
billoviatt: My brother has just been diagnosed with Squamous Cell cancer and is scheduled for chemo. I understand chemo drastically lowers your immune system. And I know that advanced antioxidant supplements build it up. Where do you stand on taking an advanced multivitamin under these conditions??
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: I recommend taking a multivitamin, fish oil and some anti-oxidants during chemo (for example CoQ10 if the chemotherapy will affect the heart).
I will often recommend large doses of supplements after chemotherapy to assist the body in its recovery.
There have been studies looking at high dose intravenous vitamin C with chemotherapy which appear to be promising in shrinkage of tumors, but those studies are in the early phases.
I also recommend acupuncture for patients receiving chemo and radiation to help alleviate many of the side effects.
JoanB: What supplements would you recommend for a person with Celiac disease?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: With celiac, the most important thing is to come off of gluten and have your vitamin levels checked to make sure you are not deficient. Many celiac patients will have a vitamin D, iron or magnesium deficiency. Make sure you take a good multi-vitamin as a good start.
There are so many deficiencies possible with celiac that you would need to be assessed.
Heart Health - Coenzyme 10 (CoQ10)
tryme3: Is it beneficial to your health to take CQ Enzyme Q10? What are the benefits of its use? Are there any side effects?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: CoQ10 is important in the production of energy by your body. However, your body makes CoQ10 naturally. Therefore most people do not need it. If you experienced significant fatigue, take a statin drug or have heart failure, CoQ10 may be helpful. I do not know of any side effects.
JoanB: Do I need to take CoQ10 if I don't take statins?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: Not necessarily. Your body makes CoQ10 on its own. Some conditions have been associated with low COQ10 levels like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. Some drugs may diminish COQ10 levels, like statins.
In general, you do not need to take it if you are healthy, not fatigued, etc.
mcclels2: Are there alternative treatments for blood thinning therapies i.e. Coumadin®, Lovenox®, etc?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: None that have been proven effective for the conditions treated with Coumadin® and Lovenox®.
Janerww: Could you speak as to what would be appropriate alternative medical strategies for someone with cardiomyopathy and asthma?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: CoQ10 has been shown to be potentially effective with cardiomyopathy, as has fish oil.
- Fish oil and Vitamin D may be effective for asthma as well.
- Magnesium seems to be helpful for asthma as well as cardiomyopathy.
- Vitamin D deficiency has been seen to have an association doubling the risk of having a heart attack, but whether it is effective for treating cardiomyopathy is unknown.
strongheart: Is there an alternative medicine for amiodarone?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: Magnesium and fish oil have been both associated with decreasing cardiac arrhythmias. There have not been head to head studies with amiodarone to compare the efficacy.
robynatl1: What do you recommend for a 33 yr old man awaiting a heart transplant due to non-obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, who is in constant pain? Do you also have suggestions for keeping him healthy post transplant, given he will be in an immunosuppressed state?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: The things that I would recommend to keep patients with heart conditions healthy are: fish oil, magnesium, CoQ10, Vitamin D and a MVT. For pain, consider adding acupuncture and turmeric.
roberta: Is it recommended to take red yeast rice tablets to help lower cholesterol? If so, how much per day?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: Red yeast rice has been shown in multiple studies to be as effective as statin drugs for hyperlipidemia. Many statin drugs have also been shown to decrease mortality and red yeast rice has yet to have a major study to look at that has an end point.
Nubianspirit: Are there any supplements that can help with palpitations.
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: Magnesium or fish oil may be helpful for palpitations. Acupuncture has also been shown to be helpful for palpitations.
drhanaa: Is there a treatment for SLE in integrative medicine for children?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: As an inflammatory condition, treatments which are anti-inflammatory would be targeted in integrative medicine in SLE patients.
These include high dose fish oil (6,000-10,000 mg/day) Vitamin D, Turmeric and a strict anti-inflammatory diet.
reikigirl: Do you recommend any alternative treatments for MS? Treatments that may compliment the use of Copaxone? I'm looking for anything that may assist in slowing down the progress of the disease or ways to enable the medicine to do a better job. Thanks!
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: For MS - yes. Very low saturated fat diets have been associated in multiple studies in decreasing the frequency of relapses.
- I recommend a strict vegan diet for MS patients.
- Vitamin D levels should be maintained above 60.
- High dose fish oil is anti-inflammatory and may be helpful.
- And acupuncture has been shown to be helpful for many of the symptoms of MS in multiple studies.
reikigirl: Have there been any studies on the effects of Reiki treatments and those suffering from MS?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: Not that I have seen. There have been studies with Reiki and Parkinson's disease which show some benefit.
Janerww: Do you have recommendations for supplements for osteoarthritis?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: Yes- fish oil, vitamin D and turmeric can all be very helpful for osteoarthritis.
ellorymcq: Can you please discuss the use of melatonin for lack of sleep? Is it safe?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: Yes, it is safe and can be very effective for sleep disturbances. I usually do not start with melatonin because most of us are actually deficient in magnesium, which will also cause sleep disturbance.
If the magnesium/chamomile does not do the trick, then I usually add melatonin, 3-10 mgs at bedtime.
chiller: Please discuss the use of Echinacea to improve the immune system and the ability to ward off “over use” of antibiotics?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: Echinacea MAY be helpful at the onset of cold or flu symptoms, but it should not be taken on a regular basis because studies have shown that it will actually lower your body’s immunities over time.
strongheart: What about diet?...is the Mediterranean Diet truly the healthiest?...even beyond Vegetarian/Vegan?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: There are many studies that support the healthy benefits of both vegetarian as well as the Mediterranean Diets. I do not know if there have been any head-to-head studies comparing the two.
drhanaa: what are the foods avoided in anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory diets?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: For diabetic patients, I recommend a very low carbohydrate diet as well as removing sources of inflammation from the diet such as saturated and trans-fats.
AdamBrown: Is juicing (fruits and veggies) really that beneficial?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: I often times recommend "juicing" in a powerful blender (like a Vitamix blender.) I do not recommend traditional juicing where the juicer extracts the fiber. The benefits of drinking fruits and vegetables is that we often times do not chew our foods well enough and that may affect the absorption, particularly as we get older and have less digestive enzymes from our pancreas.
Janerww: Are there any supplements/vitamins that you recommend for someone on a vegetarian - nearly vegan diet?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: I recommend a whole food MVT with minerals for everyone. For individuals who are vegan, the vitamin B12 level should be checked. The main thing that I worry about with vegans is B12 and iron. A good MVT supplement should contain B12 and iron. Note: whole food MVT are made from fruits & vegetables, which do not naturally have B12 - therefore a B12 supplement will need to be added.
reikigirl: Would you comment about the relationship with soy and thyroid treatments? I have heard that soy is not necessarily as wonderful as it's sold to be. I have also heard that it is not necessarily helpful in treating hyper or hypothyroidism... Thanks!
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: Soy can act as a goitrogen in very high doses. But eating normal amounts of soy would not cause major issues with the thyroid gland. I do not recommend taking soy supplements if you have thyroid issues.
Janerww: Are there any supplements that you recommend for folks with hypothyroidism already taking Armour Thyroid? Specifically ones that would support energy.
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: I usually recommend increasing the source of iodine in patients with hypothyroidism. Iodine is found in higher concentrations in fish and sea vegetables, as well as iodized salt. Other supplements to support energy include, fish oil, magnesium, vitamin D, and CoQ10 among others.
softshoulders2: Are you familiar with any supplements that help support the body's normal ability to remove Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGE's)?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: AGE's are removed by the body when that protein has run its course naturally. The glucose irreversibly binds to the protein which can cause damage. The best way for getting rid of AGE's is to prevent their formation to begin with. And this is accomplished by having a low glycemic diet (i.e. no simple carbohydrates).
softshoulders2: Are you familiar with OPC's and Pycnogenol® used as an anti-oxidant and an anti-inflammatory? Do you suggest taking nutritional supplements in an isotonic form when available?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: I am not familiar with this.
softshoulders2: Since there are so many supplements on the market do you suggest any particular brands or possible ways to research different supplements to determine the supplement’s quality?
Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: Yes. I use consumerlab.com as a wonderful source for checking what supplements have in them, compared to what they say they have, how well they are absorbed and for evidence of impurities.
strongheart: Thank you so much, Dr. Edwards. I hope you can do this again. It was my first CC chat and very valuable. Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: Thank you for asking questions
Cleveland_Clinic_Host: I'm sorry to say that our time with Tanya Edwards, MD, MEd is now over. Thank you again Dr. Edwards for taking the time to answer our questions about Alternative Treatment Options for Managing Your Health. Speaker_-_Dr__Tanya_Edwards: Thank you. I enjoyed chatting with you today!
- To make an appointment with Tanya Edwards, MD, M.Ed., or any of our other specialists within the Center for Integrative Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, please call 216.986.HEAL(4325). You can also visit us online at clevelandclinic.org/integrativemedicine
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