“Drink a cup of golden milk before bed, the turmeric will help you sleep!” “Sour cherry supplements improved my athletic performance, you should try them too!” “Taking zinc reduces the length and symptoms of the common cold!” Do you ever hear these claims and think they sound too good to be true? There is often fair reason to be cautious about introducing homeopathic or naturopathic medicines to your current regimen—they might interact with medicines you’re already taking, they might be contraindicated for a condition you have, and there might be no evidence at all that they are helpful in any way.
Librarians love finding the evidence that supports or disproves medical claims (to say nothing of miraculous claims!), and we have a few handy resources available to help out with researcher questions about homeopathic or naturopathic medicines. These resources are all evidence-based and are all appropriate for patient care.
The Biomedical Libraries provides subscription access to a robust database for these particular research questions—Natural Medicines. Make sure to access the database from the Biomedical Libraries homepage for full access to the resource. You can use Natural Medicines to research supplements, complementary and integrative medicines, and condition-specific interventions. Some quick tips for using Natural Medicines:
- Use the Interaction Checker to see if a supplement interacts with a prescription drug
- Use the Pregnancy & Lactation Checker to see if a supplement is safe for a pregnant or breastfeeding person (and infant)
- Search using the Effectiveness Checker to quickly find out if scientific evidence exists to back up the efficacy of a supplement or medicine
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the National Institutes of Health, provides excellent herbal and botanical health information, and additional evidence-based support for questions of this nature. Some quick tips for using NCCIH (no subscription access necessary):
- Explore Herbs at a Glance to find out more about the efficacy, safety, and cautions of taking certain herbs
- Find evidence-based research for topics from A-Z (or, from Acai to Zinc!)
- Quickly investigate clinical practice guidelines related to allergy, family medicine, pain management, women’s health (and more)
MedlinePlus, from the National Library of Medicine, compiles relatable and accessible information about herbs and supplements. This A-Z list is easy to browse and provides quick information about the effectiveness, dosage and drug interactions of the listed herbs and supplements.
For additional information about these resources and the other resources, the Biomedical Libraries provides, stop at one of our library locations and ask to meet with a librarian (or make an appointment with us online). We’re happy to work with you on your research questions!
This post was written by Elaina Vitale, a Research and Education Librarian for the Biomedical Libraries.