March 26, 2010

Holistic Approach to Cystic Fibrosis

A lot of people are embracing this alternative medicine approach in all areas of their health. When it comes to treating someone with a genetic disease like cystic fibrosis these complementary treatments should be discussed with the physician and that these CF treatments should be just that, complementary. Realize you can’t substitute a lung transplant with Pancreatin.  A few years back a survey was conducted and subsequently the results were published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine1.

The Results were as follows:

The results showed that 77% of patients use some form of CAM when the definition of CAM therapy included prayer specifically for health reasons. When prayer was excluded from the definition, the use of CAM decreased to 65%. The most commonly used CAM therapies were biologically based practices (53%) followed by body-mind medicine (49%), manipulative practices (14.5%), and whole medical systems (8%). Most of the patients interviewed did not consult a practitioner, but they themselves considered that CAM treatments were beneficial.

The Conclusions where less than conclusive:

The present survey provides current data describing the use of CAM in patients with CF and adds to the increasing body of evidence about CAM use in the United States. Further research is needed to explore the relationship and effectiveness of specific types of CAM practices and their benefits on symptom relief and overall quality of life of CF patients.

I am not saying that supplemental use of vitamins and minerals is bologna, but as a sole source on medical treatment in a disease that is so volatile and has the possibility to be extremely serious is borderline irresponsible. There are also some combinations that can prove to be very dangerous. For instance, if a patient is on Coumadin, Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAMs) such a Cayenne, Willow bark, St. John’s wort, Ginger, and Coenzyme Q10 are associated with increasing the possibility of bleeding. So do some research before you mix old school and new school treatments. Overall, the good news is that ten years ago the life expectancy of a person with cystic fibrosis was about 18 years and today its 35 years.

1 Tanase, Ana & Zanni, Robert. (2008). The use of complementary and alternative medicine among pediatric cystic fibrosis patients. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 14. Retreived from