For those accustomed to modern medicine, it is difficult to put alternative medicine and urology in the same sentence. However, there has been a growing interest in the use of alternative and complementary medicine in treating several diseases, and the trend is witnessed even in Western nations. For instance, more than 30 percent of patients in the U.S use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and they spend over $50 billion per year. The most common providers of alternative treatments include chiropractors, acupuncturists, and herbalists.
Patients Who Use CAM
A survey done in the U.S found that CAM was popular among younger patients with higher income levels and education compared to uneducated people with lower income. In the UK, organizations that educate medical practitioners and the public on CAM have been established. In addition, the UK parliament in 2002 published a comprehensive report on the use of CAM, areas of future research, and the training of healthcare professionals on the regulations and guidelines to be followed.
In the U.S, the NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) has categorized CAM into five key domains. The domains include:
1. Mind-body treatments; these include mental healing, prayer and meditation;
2. Alternative medical approaches, such as Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, and homeopathy;
3. Biological therapies, for example, the use of special diets and herbs, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins;
4. Body manipulation methods, such as massage and chiropractic therapy; and
5. Energy-based therapies, such as therapeutic touch and Reiki, Qui gong, and bio-field therapies.
Biological therapies are the most relevant to urology because they provide provisions and products that are increasingly being used to treat simple urological conditions.
CAM Treatments for Prostate Disorders
CAM treatment for prostate cancer entails the use of diet, fruits, vegetables and observing general nutritional guidelines. Several studies have shown that adopting a diet with low calories, low amounts of saturated fat, but contains lots of phytoestrogen, high amounts of isoflavones (found in green tea and soy products), and fruit and vegetables reduces the chances of developing prostate disorders. Moreover, the diet improves the prognosis of prostate disorders and prostate cancer in patients suffering from the conditions.
Researchers have noted that the type of diet and lifestyle habits in Western and Asian countries might explain the low prevalence of prostate cancer in these populations. Approximately 30 to 75 percent of patients suffering from cancer globally use CAM therapies that include biological, herbal, and dietary based approaches. About 60 percent of people with prostate cancer also utilize the aforementioned CAM treatments in treating their condition.
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The use of CAM in Treating Erectile Dysfunction
The use of CAM in treating ED has not shown higher success rates compared to clinical trials that have used placebos and chemical drugs. Some of the CAM products used to treat ED include zinc supplements, acupuncture, gingko extracts, red ginseng products, and yohimbine among others. However, the use of these herbal products has not proven to be superior over placebos.
The Use of CAM Therapy in Treating Urinary Tract Infections
In alternative medicine and urology, cranberry juice is the most commonly used in treating urinary tract infections because the juice can prevent bacteria from adhering to thin inner walls of the bladder. Clinical trials at nccih.nih.gov and newriverurology.com and have demonstrated that cranberry juice is effective in treating urinary tract infections in women compared to placebos. Furthermore, cranberry reduces the risk of developing urinary tract infection symptoms in women who have been sexually active in the last six months. However, studies have shown that the use of cranberry juice can lower the absorption rate of antibiotics used to treat urinary tract infections. Moreover, excessive consumption of cranberry juice can lead to gastrointestinal problems and diarrhea.
Red Wine and the Risk of Prostate Cancer
Earlier studies have shown that a strong relationship between intake of alcohol and certain cancers such as prostate, lung and rectal cancer exists. However, red wine prostate cancer study done recently have shown that consuming red wine may lower the risk of developing prostate cancer. One study compared the history of alcohol intake of 753 men between the ages of 40 and 64 years with prostate cancer, and a similar number of men without the disease. The findings indicated that the risk of developing prostate cancer in the group that consumed red wine dropped by 24 percent. Another earlier study done in Australia indicated that women who consumed one or several glasses of wine on a daily basis reduced their chances of developing ovarian cancer by 40 percent.
The use of CAM in treating different medical conditions is becoming popular across the globe, especially in Western nations. Complementary and alternative medicines include a variety of therapies. Some of the therapies under the approach are complete treatments on their own, while others are used to enhance modern medicine. Nevertheless, more studies are needed to establish the efficacy of CAM in treating urological conditions and other diseases.