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I don’t usually watch Dr. Oz, but my patients often come to me with the latest and greatest Dr. Oz advice and ask if it’s legit. I recently caught the last half of his show and was pleasantly surprised. While I’m positive he’s extremely intelligent (simply by virtue of the fact that he was chosen to train in cardiothoracics), the spectrum of his training cardiothoracic surgery is quite narrow given the vast options for medical and surgical specialties. So it’s hard to believe that a chest surgeon gives a crap about essential oils and wheat germ or anything outside that small window of rib that they work through in order to replace valves, remove lungs and the like.  His effectiveness during this particular show was likely the product of good research and some pretty convincing acting on his part.

BUT, in his episode on alternative medicine, Dr. Oz approved of several natural medicines/remedies that I prescribe regularly …

Arnica is a traditional homeopathic remedy derived from a North American plant. Its strong anti-inflammatory effects have been found to reduce pain and inflammation associated with injuries and arthritis. In fact, in some small studies, it has been shown to be as effective as traditional anti-inflammatories such as acetominophen and ibuprofen. Arnica comes in gel, cream or pellet form and can be used to reduce swelling and promote healing after an acute or chronic injury, postoperatively or during and after pregnancy. It is safe for children as well.

Rhodiola is an ancient Chinese herb known to be an adaptogen, which is a chemical that modulates the metabolism such that it is better able to handle stress and changes in the environment. Rhodiola is commonly used to improve mood, energy, sleep and sexual vitality. In many studies on humans, it has also been shown to reduce anxiety, stress and insomnia without the typical side effects of traditional anti-depressants.

Wheat germ is a vitamin-packed dietary addition (not for the gluten-sensitive) which helps lower cholesterol and boosts weight loss. It comes from the embryo of the wheat plant and contains plenty of protein, vitamins and fiber which are all essential for maintenance of normal cholesterol levels, blood sugar and digestion. You can add it to your cereal, protein shakes, even use it to bread fish or chicken.

Peppermint oil is an essential oil found in Europe and North America. Medicinally, it has been used to treat a host of intestinal complaints from IBS to morning sickness (quick, someone tell the Queen). I often use it during treatments in my office to help dilate blood vessels, promote circulation and ease muscular inflammation. As a skin preparation it is great for relieving headaches, muscle tension, common colds and even anxiety, IF you don’t mind smelling like a candy cane. 

Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant that doesn’t just make you groggy like many prescription strength medications.

Physiologically, magnesium is responsible for energy production (remember, ATP?), protein synthesis and transport of other ions. We regularly use it to treat abnormal heart rhythms, pre-eclampsia of pregnancy and asthma. But many studies also show its benefit in treating high blood pressure, diabetes, low bone density, and migraines. Magnesium is well-absorbed intestinally and also helps with mood, sleep, digestion and muscle spasm.

Epsom salts (which contain magnesium) can be used in the bathtub to ease muscle tension and bruising.  Just make sure you’re not taking too much magnesium – overdosing on magnesium can have serious cardiac complications. 

Never thought I needed approval from Dr. Oz, but now that I have it, it feels kinda nice.

And of course, my patients come back and say, “HEY!  Dr. Oz uses the same stuff you gave me…”  *Mischievous grin*


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Hugelmeyer Alexis
Alexis Hugelmeyer, D.O.
is the wife of Michael, mother of Isabella, 5, and Lance, 2, and a family physician whose passion is hands-on manipulation for treatment and healing of any and every type of medical problem. She is administrative director of medical education and internship director at Peconic Bay Medical Center and also a private practitioner in Riverhead. A graduate of Villanova University and New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, she lives in Baiting Hollow.

Look for Dr. Mom every Saturday on Riverheadlocal.com

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