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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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February 15, 2017

8 Alternative Therapies Worth Considering

By Mark Sisson
73 Comments

Natural medicine on wooden table backgroundHere at Mark’s Daily Apple, I avoid writing off anything without first investigating it. I keep one foot in the “alternative” health world and one in the “conventional” realm, making sure to maintain a skeptical—but openminded—stance on everything. There’s no other way to do it, if you’re honest. At least as far as I can tell.

No, not every alternative therapy works. A lot of it is pure hogwash. But whether we’re talking about off-label uses of conventional drugs and illegal drugs, natural pharmacological agents, or downright outlandish-sounding interventions, some therapies are worth considering. Not trying, necessarily. Considering.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of them:

Curcumin for Depression

The standard treatment for serious depression is the antidepressant. For years, researchers have been trotting out studies which pit curcumin—the primary phytonutrient in the spice turmeric—against conventional antidepressants or placebos.

  • In 2014, curcumin improved symptoms in patients with major depressive disorder, showing particular efficacy in people with atypical depression.
  • In 2015, researchers discovered that curcumin raised levels of certain biomarkers with proven antidepressant effects.
  • Also in 2015, researchers found that curcumin made antidepressants more effective.
  • And this year, researchers again confirmed the benefits of curcumin in major depression.

Exercise for Depression

To their credit, doctors are quick to recommend exercise for the treatment of “physical” ailments like osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, sarcopenia. It works, and it’s obvious and broadly accepted that it works. But evidence is emerging that exercise can also be an effective primary therapy for depression.

It’s especially good for people who don’t respond to SSRIs. In one study, 30% of folks whose depression did not respond to antidepressants experienced complete remission using exercise. In another, exercise improved self-rated sleep quality in depressed patients.

Psychedelics for Depression, Addiction, and Anxiety

Turn on, tune in, drop out… of your addiction, intractable depression, and crippling anxiety? Maybe.

In patients with terminal cancer, a single dose of psilocbyin (compound in “magic mushrooms”) abolished depression and anxiety. That’s “end of life” anxiety and depression, by the way—the realest stuff around. Other studies have similar results.

Ketamine is a powerful sedative that in smaller doses produces psychedelic effects. More recently, it’s emerged as a rapid antidepressant, with single doses abolishing drug-resistant depression within 24 hours and lasting up to three weeks.

Ibogaine is an African psychedelic whose characteristics make it untenable for recreation but promising for addiction therapy. It’s been used to produce remission of severe opioid addiction. It’s effective against alcoholism and nicotine addiction, and it shows promise against methamphetamine addiction.

It goes without saying that these are all powerful substances that also happen to be illegal in most places. Exercise caution. Several ibogaine clinics are doing good work in Mexico, so that’s an option.

Red Light for Joint Pain, Macular Degeneration, Thyroiditis, Cellulite, and Hair Loss

Shining infrared light on your bum knee and expecting anything to happen sounds ridiculous, right? Well…

There are other effects, too.

  • Applying red light to the eyes of seniors with macular degeneration significantly improved visual acuity after just two weeks. The benefits lasted for at least three years. Yes, years.
  • Applying red light to the skin covering the thyroid gland in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis for ten sessions improved thyroid function. Placebo did not.
  • A red light-enhanced comb appears to stimulate hair growth in both men and women with hair loss.
  • Red light may even help smooth out cellulite, though the jury is still out.

Fecal Transplants for Antibiotic-Resistant C. diff Infections

A friend of mine’s father passed from cancer a decade back. While the cancer ultimately did him in, one of the severest blows occurred when he picked up a nasty case of antibiotic-resistant C. diff in the hospital on a routine check with the oncologist. He was stuck there for weeks. Nothing worked. There’s no question he lost several months or years from dealing with the ramifications of constant watery diarrhea and poor sleep (from being woken up by his rumbling stomach).

I wish I knew about fecal transplants back then, because they are the single most effective (and in many cases, only) way to treat drug-resistant C. diff infections.

Helminths

Modern sterility, medicine, and hygiene have eliminated helminths, yet our immune systems, which evolved in the presence of these parasites, expect them. There’s good evidence that our immune systems are “overactive” without a parasite load to attack, and this has given rise to the increase in asthma, allergies, intestinal diseases, celiac, and even multiple sclerosis.

Helminthic therapy—literally giving yourself worms—sounds gross, but it really does seem to help people deal with some of these conditions.

Forest Bathing for Stress, Diabetes, Hypertension, and Immune Health

Strolling along a wooded path sure is pleasant, but evidence out of Japan—where forest walks known as “forest bathing” are a cornerstone of modern medicine—shows that it can treat disease and ill health. It lowers stress and reduces cortisol, improves blood glucose control (compared to the same amount of walking in a city setting), reduces blood pressure, and increases the activity of cancer-fighting natural killer cells. What’s best of all? Many of these effects last for weeks after a single visit.

But don’t just go once a month. Go as often as possible. Get your green space (even if you’re not sick).

Low-Dose Naltrexone for Seemingly Everything

At normal doses, naltrexone blocks opioid receptors, inhibits GABA activity, and prevents dopamine release, making it great for alcohol or opioid addiction. At low doses, naltrexone blocks opioid receptors just enough to provoke the release of our natural opioids, the endorphins, which helps balance out the immune response and reduce inflammation. A growing number of clinicians are now using low-dose naltrexone as an off-label drug to treat conditions like multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, autism, chronic pain, and cancer.

As the immune system and inflammation both play major roles in seemingly every health condition, low-dose naltrexone is also being explored by clinicians in many other fields, including fertility and autoimmune diseases.

That’s it for today, folks. I’d love to hear from you.

What alternative therapies are you curious about? Which ones have you used? Are there any you’d like me to explore further?

Thanks for reading!

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73 Comments on "8 Alternative Therapies Worth Considering"

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wildgrok
wildgrok
1 month 10 days ago

Hi what happened to the Mother Fix of All Ailments:
Chicken Soup

HealthyHombre
HealthyHombre
1 month 9 days ago

LOL. Now bone broth is all the rage wildgrok … so chicken bone broth for the body and soul. 🙂

Sal
Sal
1 month 10 days ago

Red and infrared therapeutic laser light therapy really works! Saved my friend’s foot from amputation!

LindaG
LindaG
1 month 10 days ago

CDB oil helps my arthritis and fibromyalgia symptoms.

Monika
Monika
1 month 10 days ago

why is CDB oil?

Matthew Zastrow
1 month 10 days ago

CDB comes from marijuana. THC for the mind and CBD for the body. CBD oil is an oil extraction of the compound from the cannabis plant. Look into the CO2 extracted CBD to stay away from butane extracted CBD…. Or just smoke some weed (different strains have higher or lower amounts of THC vs CBD)

Kirt
Kirt
1 month 10 days ago

Maybe meant CBD oil? The non-psychoactive cannabis. Cannabidiol
Many espoused uses
Available (in CA) OTC

Devin Nordson
Devin Nordson
1 month 10 days ago

I would guess Linda meant CBD oil, which is extracted from cannabis.

LindaG
LindaG
1 month 10 days ago

Yes, CBD oil. My bad!

Monika
Monika
1 month 9 days ago

Thanks everyone!

Elizabeth Resnick
1 month 10 days ago

Wow, I’m fascinated by the red light therapy! And totally believe in the “forest bathing” thing. Curcumin seems to be pretty much good for everything, and I had heard of the studies about exercise and depression. I would go so far as to say that exercise probably has some type of preventative effect against depression.

Elenor
Elenor
1 month 8 days ago

Wonder if we-all should think about “exercise helping depression” the other way round. If you’re locked in a cell, or trapped in a small area (i.e., no exercise), THAT could be making/helping the body to feel depressed? We always seem to say: “exercise helps depression,” rather than “NON-exercise leads to increases, supports,may lead to depression.” (90% of problem solving in accurately defining the problem?)

Jeff
Jeff
1 month 10 days ago

Has anyone tried supplementing with fulvic acid or humic acid? I just recently have started hearing about it being a great source of trace minerals. Would love to hear anyone’s experience with it if they’ve tried it or even better a full post on it by Mark.

Jen
Jen
1 month 9 days ago

I have been taking fulvic acid for a month and haven’t noticed any change on how I feel. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t helping, though.

Monika
Monika
1 month 10 days ago

Thanks Mark! This is a great list!!!

jamesd
jamesd
1 month 10 days ago

sulforaphane

C C
C C
1 month 10 days ago

I would like to know more about sulforaphane too!

barry
barry
1 month 10 days ago

Sulforaphane is a compound found most abundant in cruciferous vegetables. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if they make some sort of isolated supplement as well. It is a interesting and powerful little compound. Particularly good for heart health. It reduces the inflammation in the arteries and helps to dissolve plaque buildup. The dosage is tricky for a therapeutic amount, just eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables. They need to be cooked to because raw cruciferous vegetables are high in goitergens. They hamper with thyroid function. Try steaming, that’ll eliminate the goitergens but won’t remove many nutrients.

Dr.RhondaPatrickFan
Dr.RhondaPatrickFan
1 month 10 days ago

Check out Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s podcast, FoundMyFitness. From what I understand of it, you don’t want to cook cruciferous vegetables in order to maximize sulforaphane. She also recommends some supplements, but says broccoli sprouts are the best food source of it, and cites different studies and dosages. It’s really interesting stuff, helping autism patients, inflammation, and the secretion of toxins like benzene, which we absorb from our environment.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month 9 days ago

If you are interested in sulphoraphane you should check out Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s podcast on Found my fitness.com. Or check out the Joe rogan experience episode 901. Dr. Rhonda is his guest and she goes deep into the science and benefits of sulphoraphane.

Matthew Zastrow
1 month 10 days ago

What about Cold therapy!?

Shary
Shary
1 month 9 days ago

Matthew, if you’re referring to cold laser therapy (also known as low level laser), it works quite well for injuries. So does alternating heat and ice. Otherwise, if there’s a freezing-your-butt-off therapy, I haven’t heard of it.

Nicholle
Nicholle
1 month 8 days ago

Perhaps Matthew meant cryotherapy?

Jeff
Jeff
1 month 10 days ago

IV vitamin C is considered “alternative” but it has helped more people live longer than any conventional therapies for cancer and other diseases. Check doctoryourself.com for the history.

Elenor
Elenor
1 month 8 days ago
I make ‘liposomal vitamin C” at home. (Apparently, doubt there are many studies?) liposomal vit. C actually puts MORE C into cells than even IV. Taking vit. C pills (again, not solid on the numbers) means your cells get less than 30%? (lower?) of what you take; most you pee out. (There’s a tale form Australia of a guy who was expected to die — he was hanging on with IV “C” — but the hospital gave up/stopped; so his family began making and bringing in liposomal vit C and the guy later walked out of the hospital!) It’s not… Read more »
Kemo
Kemo
1 month 10 days ago

I always use “alternative” therapys. Haven’t been to a md for 20 yrs. I sure dislike the new terminology tho.. Forest bathing? Earthing? Try a walk in the wood and walking barefoot.. new age names for age old things. Lol!

Shary
Shary
1 month 9 days ago

I agree. I mostly use tried and true alternative techniques, and have done so for years. I’ve never found that doctors did me much good, and one a few occasions they made me worse. I’ve also found that most issues will get better without medical intervention if you have the patience to give them a little time. My own theory (tongue-in-cheek) is this: 85 percent of what ails a person will eventually get better on its own; 10 percent will need some sort of professional treatment; and the remaining 5 percent, well, you’re probably just stuck with it.

Ned Mills
Ned Mills
1 month 10 days ago
As a professional pianist, I have had problems with tendinitis for over two decades until I learned about the benefits of magnesium oil. Everyone knows how Epsom salts is great for tired muscles. The active ingredient in Epsom salt is magnesium. Magnesium oil is kind of like Epsom salts on “steroids”. Apply directly to the area where it hurts – it’s great for tired muscles, joints, sore back and neck, etc. just wipe it on and then wash off after it dries after about 15 minutes. Have aloe vera ready to apply in case it itches.
Lucas Gardezani Abduch
1 month 10 days ago

infrared light is amazing for joint pain and really confortable to have on the belly too 😀
I think 2 things that are worth mentioning in this article are: saunas and acupunture! used for a long long time in many ancient civilizatons as well and with proven results

Donna Munro
Donna Munro
1 month 8 days ago

would like to hear more about regular saunas and the infra red saunas

Melanie
1 month 10 days ago

Helminths along with a Primal lifestyle have absolutely saved me from CFS/ME and chronic migraine. You can read my story at http://colonyofme.com/escaping-autoimmune-hell-helminthic-microbiome-immune-support/

Theresa
Theresa
1 month 10 days ago

Red light therapy works so well. I have significant arthritis in both feet and ankles and light therapy works wonders for pain and stiffness.

Jack Lea Mason
1 month 10 days ago

Some other herbals may be mentioned as well. Ive been taking boswellia as an alternative to Ibuprofen. So far my joint pain is under control.

barry
barry
1 month 10 days ago

Red light sounds interesting, I use a light box 10,000 lux but it’s blue light. It helps keep circadian rhythms in balance. What else is red light good for? I might need one of those too.

Dan
Dan
1 month 10 days ago

You had me at the photo of your doggie!

Jill Curran
1 month 10 days ago

I’d love to hear your take on neurofeedback/neurotherapy. We have seen cognitive improvements in our son (age 10) and improvements in his epilepsy. A practitioner just opened in our town who is using neurofeedback as well as other treatments for ADHD. Here’s a good site to start: http://www.neurotherapydallas.com/

Misiko
Misiko
1 month 9 days ago

Mark, what is your view on hydrogen enriched water? There seem to be a fairly big number of studies (600+) showing it’s pretty incredible health benefits, and Japanese seem to have it widely available commercially, but tampering with my drinking water doesn’t somehow agree with me, for some reason. What does everyone think?

Namita Patel
Namita Patel
1 month 9 days ago

Hi Mark, a friend of mine has recently started trying out different alternative therapies for childhood trauma and to improve his relationships with key people in his life, as well as to boost immunity. I’m specifically referring to use of ayahuasca, San Pedro, and Kambo (frog poison). What are your thoughts on the efficacy and safety of these natural medicines?

Susan
Susan
1 month 9 days ago
Never commented on this site before, although I’ve been a follower for years. But I want to relate my experience with depression. I’d been suffering from low mood for some years and tried both talk therapy and SSRIs. Neither worked particularly well, and when I complained to my doctor his response was to offer to up my dose of citalopram. Since I had significant side effects already I wasn’t keen to go there. I decided, on the basis of much research, to make my own prescription: as much outdoor time as possible and a weekly sunbed trip when it wasn’t,… Read more »
Donna Munro
Donna Munro
1 month 8 days ago

Wow! That’s great. We’re animals and we need to move! We need the sky!

Tess
Tess
1 month 8 days ago

Pet therapy is supposed to work wonders too ???

Lucas Gardezani Abduch
1 month 8 days ago

interested about the “lots of spicy food” bit, why is that?

Jen
Jen
1 month 9 days ago

Thank you for the depression therapies. I am going to add some circumin to my routine. I have been wrestling with depression and increasing anxiety the past few years and some days have been pretty bad. I refuse to take antidepressants. No one knows I am dealing with it because I am high functioning, but being in my head space is absolutely exhausting.

Chickie
Chickie
1 month 9 days ago

Try Vit D3. A simple blood test can tell if your blood level is low.

HealthyHombre
HealthyHombre
1 month 9 days ago

Good read and none of this is really that far-fetched IMHO … with the exception of Helminthic therapy (I read Melanie’s blog, interesting) and not familiar with naltrexone. The one alternative therapy I read a lot about and I’m very skeptical regarding is Reiki. I suspect the power of the mind and the placebo effect is in play, if you are absolutely convinced on a molecular level this person is manipulating energy and healing whatever it is you want healed, it might do the trick for you.

Diana
Diana
1 month 9 days ago

We really want to try the light therapy, but could someone recommend one to buy? The reviews on Amazon are mostly fake.

Catherine
Catherine
1 month 9 days ago

Hi Diana. Funny how these things are often synchronistic. We have just done major research into the benefits of Near Infra Red in terms of tissue healing and not having big money to spend, checked out Dr Wilson’s design

http://drlwilson.com/articles/SAUNALITE%20NIR%20BENEFITS.htm

we have now purchased 4 x 250W bulbs and lamps designed for heating lizard aquariums etc. The bulbs are currently in shipping so we have not tried it yet.

The best bulbs are pobably these:

RubyLux NIR-A Near Infrared Bulb
All the best
Cathi

Geranium
Geranium
1 month 9 days ago

I truly would be dead (depression) without energy healers. Ancient Chinese medicine deals with our bodies’ energy systems.

I also refuse to take antidepressants. Things that have helped: daily cod liver oil, paleo diet (grains and sugar=low mood), and Mintran from Standard Processing. Sunshine. Walking.

Naomi W.
Naomi W.
1 month 9 days ago

I’m hoping for a follow-up article on the alternative therapies that are totally hogwash. (For example: earcandling, in my opinion.)

framistat
framistat
1 month 9 days ago

Reiki.

Ellen
Ellen
1 month 9 days ago

How about visceral mobilization? Does anyone have an opinion on this? Thanks!

shasha
shasha
1 month 9 days ago
Yes, since you asked…..I think I know how you feel about homeopathic remedies, but I think more investigation is warranted. My experiences, as well as those of my dentist, doctor (and her nurses) has convinced us of the wonders of using Arnica Montana as recommended. It is quite something how it works to heal bruising and trauma quickly, with no side effects and at very low cost. Granted, some homeopathics may not work as expected but that is the very nature of homeopathy. One has to study the very long history of it to get a grasp but I see… Read more »
David
David
1 month 9 days ago

Vitamin D for psoriasis, MS, other autoimmune conditions

Chickie
Chickie
1 month 9 days ago

Vit D 3 is also great for depression, especially the kind caused by not being in the sun in winter. It also helpsthe thyroid work.

Elenor
Elenor
1 month 8 days ago

Vitamin D plus K2.

James
James
1 month 9 days ago

Hi Mark,
Thanks for this article. I’d love to see you write about proliferation therapy. I’ve avoided some major intervention using this to heal a jaw joint.

Katie
Katie
1 month 9 days ago

Great article! Would love to hear your thoughts on other alternative therapies, such as, Floating (epsom salt magnesium floats), cryotherapy, and hyperbaric oxygen chambers.

chris
chris
1 month 9 days ago

Mark, how about oil pulling and all the benefits touted about it? Some websites say it can cure just about everything, while others (actual dentists) say at most it’s a good mouthwash replacement and nothing more.

NoHarmacy
NoHarmacy
1 month 9 days ago
Hi Mark, Good post and certainly leaves it open for a lot of discussion. I would be another person to recommend sulforaphane and a great product in combination with it is GliSODin. Cell-logic does both of these products and combines them in an awesome multivitamin. Both of these compounds are emerging nutrigenomic compounds and there is hours and hours of interesting reading out there, so check them out. GliSODin is a gliadin bound (don’t freak out – it’s not as bad as it sounds) compound of superoxide dismutase sourced from the Cucumis melon. There is emerging research that it may… Read more »
Heather
Heather
1 month 9 days ago

Is red light the same as LLLTherapy?

Superchunk
Superchunk
1 month 9 days ago

DMSO was a total miracle cure for my knees

Catherine
Catherine
1 month 9 days ago

Hi What form of DMSO do you use. I have very arthritic knees and have tried all sorts.

Superchunk
1 month 8 days ago

Hi Catherine, I use the cream in the orange container sold on amazon. It took it a week to start working but it has been great. Also, something else that really helped my knees were the exercises and gait improvements recommended by Pete Egoscue in his books.

Catherine
Catherine
1 month 6 days ago

Thanks for this. One thing that does help is massaging my knees and the calves and thighs above and below. My shiatsu practitioner recommended this because the knee structure is quite constricted

Superchunk
1 month 8 days ago

Also, I have heard good things about Kratom and CBD oil for pain, but I have not tired either

Joanna
Joanna
1 month 9 days ago
So I am really hoping there are some very careful practitioners out there monitoring the helminthic therapy. I live in Ethiopia where all manner of intestinal parasites exist in droves. I de-worm every 6 months, and even with that, often feel lethargic, sick, bloated … and I’m a privileged person with access to meds. For most of the population, intestinal worms are associated with malnutrition, chronic anemia, muscle wasting and lots of kids end up missing school. It’s not something to take lightly, and don’t underestimate the advances brought by good food and water hygiene that mean most modern-day Groks… Read more »
Jen
Jen
1 month 8 days ago

Unlike just picking up random worms from the environment, helminthic therapy is actually very specific and controlled. Only a few well-researched species of helminths are used, and they have to meet very stringent criteria to qualify for therapeutic application. You can find out much more about this therapy on the helminthic therapy wiki page: http://helminthictherapywiki.org/wiki/index.php/Helminthic_Therapy_Wiki

Melanie
1 month 8 days ago

Picking up random parasites in unknown numbers from the environment and controlled dosage helminthic therapy are vastly different situations. There are absolutely helminths that you don’t want to have in your system at all and any helminth species in excessive numbers can be problematic, but my very small colony of Necator americanus has taken me from a total health melt down to an increasingly normal life in a matter of months. You can read my story at http://colonyofme.com/escaping-autoimmune-hell-helminthic-microbiome-immune-support/

Angie
1 month 9 days ago
“A skeptical but open-minded stance on everything” is definitelty the right attitude to adopt, but I have to admit I’m much more skeptical than open-minded when it comes to pharmaceuticals, which possibly gets me into trouble with regards to my chronic inflammation issues. I really, really want the solution to come about through diet and appropriate exercise. The Forest Bathing really rings true for me. Nothing seems to loosen me up and release stress like a walk in the high plains and woods. Although once a month I like a trip to town and to take in a gallery, museum… Read more »
Awesome
Awesome
1 month 9 days ago

Forrest bathing, for me also known as hunting. I often say to my wife when going hunting that I am just “going to sit in the woods”. Can’t tell you how many times I easily could have harvested an animal but instead just watched it. It is such great therapy for stress! Once in a while I come home with great food too! Also not surprisingly I fall asleep while out there as well.

AnnaBecker
1 month 9 days ago

You are right to be skeptical of both worlds. I have been seeing a Naturopath, and have had amazing results for everything from heartburn to high blood pressure with her diet and supplement recommendations. So until I hit a brick wall with her therapy, I’m not anxious to return to the medical establishment’s pharmaceutical solutions. These are good things to look into. Thanks.

Elenor
Elenor
1 month 8 days ago
Started sleeping (!) with my red LED bulb (this one: RubyLux ALL RED LED Bulb Small in a $5 candlestick lamp base from WalMart) glowing in my bedroom (otherwise, the room is very very dark). I put the ‘lamp’ on the bedside table opposite the ‘direction’ I usually sleep in (lie facing; although I do wake up nearly every morning on my back, so I’m not ‘avoiding’ the light). It’s not a bright lamp (can’t read by it, can barely see around the room by it, but with the normal light off– the room is bathed in red. First thing… Read more »
Helen
Helen
1 month 7 days ago
My own personal Pilates program specifically targeting my particular areas of weakness, greater postural awareness (this also came from the Pilates practice) and a new pillow helped me fix my major issues with a stiff and sore neck, bursitis in both of my shoulders and general stiffness in my back. I was all locked up and a year later I am 80% better. The root cause of all of this was hypermobile joints. No MD suggested exercise as the cure for my problem, probably because they had no idea of the cause of the problem. Modern medicine needs to get… Read more »
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