Segments in this Video

Plants or Pills: Overview (01:38)


Barbara Bancroft will discuss the effectiveness and safety of vitamins, supplements, and complementary therapies, including drug interactions.

Historical Treatments (08:36)

Aspirin was developed from willow tree bark and beaver oil. Pacific yew bark contains Taxol, used to produce Paclitaxel for treating cancer. Other plant-based treatments include Quinine, Quinidine, morphine, and digitalis. Learn about "witches brew" and the discovery of foxglove.

Traditional Medicine (01:52)

Bancroft outlines TCM and ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric and ashwaghanda are popular ayurvedic supplements.

Term Definition (05:18)

Bancroft discusses mainstream medicine or conventional Western medicine; complementary and alternative medicine combined with mainstream medicine, known as integrative healthcare; and alternative therapies. Not all mainstream medicine is evidence-based. Ritalin and omega-3 fatty acids work synergistically for ADHD.

Alternative Therapies Only for Cancer Outcomes (02:45)

Studies show using only alternative treatments, rather than using them together with conventional therapies, results in reduced 5-year survival rates. Compare statistics for breast, lung, colorectal, and prostate cancers.

CAM Types (06:48)

Complementary therapies include natural health products, meditation, and body practices. These may be mainstream for patients in other countries. Bancroft tells a story of lavender and tea tree oil disrupting hormones in boys with estrogenic effects.

Moxibustion and Cupping (03:30)

Learn about the TCM practice of heating meridian points to increase circulation and relieve pain. Cupping reduces lactic acid and recovery time among athletes.

Buying Supplements (03:00)

Manufacturers can sell products without submitting evidence of purity, potency, safety, or efficacy. North American consumers can look for certification labels from Health Canada, the USP, NSF, USDA, or

Gingko Biloba (02:35)

True gingko extract is expensive; most supplements contain only a small amount. Six of ten supplements failed testing. An NIH study found the species failed to slow cognitive decline in older adults.

Supplement Overdose Risks (07:10)

Higher vitamin and mineral dosage is not necessarily better. Excess vitamin A can cause acute liver failure; vitamin C can cause kidney stones. Bancroft recalls the "Mega-vitamin" trend.

Be Aware of Terms Used for Products (02:02)

See examples of proper and improper health claims on natural products. Lambskin condoms do not prevent STIs.

Circumcised Foreskin for Wound Care (06:03)

Companies are producing regenerative medicine products from cells extracted from foreskins. Bancroft relates a humorous story about sharing this information with a colleague.

Manuka Honey (06:47)

The natural supplement native to New Zealand contains methylglyoxal, an antibacterial agent. It also has antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, and is used for wounds, burns, and sores. See precautions and contraindications.

Be Aware of Adulterated Products (06:52)

Products may contain drugs without label disclosure. PC-SPES used to treat prostate cancer contained diethylstilbestrol, warfarin, and indomethacin. See common undisclosed drugs in supplements for ED, depression, weight loss, laxatives, and muscle-building. Most ED drugs sold over the Internet are counterfeit.

Yohimbine (06:04)

The "herbal Viagra" may have positive effects on men with psychological ED but can cause hypertensive crisis and hallucinations. Bancroft describes the stamp test for nocturnal tumescence and psychological ED.

St. John's Wort (05:28)

Hear why to ask all patients about supplement use. The herbal anti-depressant decreases cortisol and boosts serotonin and norepinephrine. However, it interacts with over 60% of prescription drugs, including Cyclosporine, tamoxifen, HIV drugs, and oral contraceptives.

Supplements Interacting with Acetaminophen (06:22)

Herbal supplements that can increase acetaminophen blood levels and cause hepatotoxic effects include kava, Siberian ginseng, resveratrol, feverfew, garcinia, boswellia, St. John's wort, green tea extracts, and cannabidiol. Milk thistle and calcium d-glucarate can reduce its effectiveness.

Supplements and Allergic Reactions (01:21)

Chamomile interacts with sedatives, anticoagulants, and antiplatelets, and can trigger a reaction in people allergic to daisy family species. Glucosamine is a shellfish product. Many supplements contain peanut oil.

Most Popular Dietary Supplements in the U.S. and Canada (05:33)

Supplements for 2019 include multivitamins, minerals, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, cranberry, probiotics, fiber, green tea, glucosamine, coenzyme Q-10, butterbur, CBD, chamomile flowers, echinacea, garlic, ginger, gingko, ginseng, licorice root, melatonin, peppermint, SJW, turmeric, and valerian root.

Most Popular Children's Dietary Supplements (02:57)

One third of children in North America are taking supplements. The top five include multivitamins, fish oil, melatonin, probiotics, and creatine. Learn about herbal tincture side effects.

Doctrine of Signatures (07:12)

An ancient principle states that every part of the human body has a corresponding healing plant that also resembles it. Hear uses for carrots, avocados, tomatoes, walnuts, grapes, sweet potatoes, oysters, and ginseng root. Learn about ginseng side effects.

Supplement "Stacking" Case Study (05:49)

Bancroft describes a 28-year-old patient who developed petechiae and perpura from taking multiple supplements with anti-platelet effects—including aspirin, glucosamine, gingko, grapeseed extract, garlic, ginseng, and Vitamin E. See when to stop taking supplements before surgery.

Antioxidants (10:44)

Antioxidants absorb free radicals that contribute to cancer, heart disease, gene mutations, and aging. Learn about antioxidant food sources. Supplements are only recommended for age-related macular degeneration.

Turmeric (03:36)

Anecdotal evidence shows curcumin boosts microglial function and limits amyloid plaque buildup in mouse brains. Alzheimer's disease rates are low in Asian counties where turmeric is a dietary staple. It has therapeutic potential for MS.

Weight Loss for Brain Protection (02:22)

Being overweight over 65 can accelerate cortical thinning by a decade. Portion control is responsible for 85% of weight loss; exercise is responsible for 15%.

Nutrition and Cancer Prevention (06:51)

Carcinogenesis is a complex process involving genetics, the immune system, and the environment. However, diet changes can reduce inflammation and angiogenesis. See a list of foods inhibiting angiogenesis and included in the anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (11:53)

Learn about DHA and EPA, including therapeutic indications. U.S. and Canadian guidelines differ in recommending a fish oil supplement for cardiovascular disease, but support eating fish. Bancroft discusses dietary methyl mercury risks in children and vegan omega-3 supplement options.

Multivitamins (10:00)

Studies show multivitamins do not enhance health or prevent illness; they can interact with levothyroxine. Post-menopausal women and men should not take multivitamins containing iron. Iron deficiency in these groups may indicate internal bleeding.

Vitamin A (05:15)

Learn about vitamin A deficiency, indications and uses, food sources, and overdose risks.

Vitamins B1 and B2 (06:30)

Thiamine is a co-factor in carbohydrate metabolism; learn about deficiency in alcoholics and bariatric surgery patients. Riboflavin combined with magnesium can reduce migraines.

Magnesium (03:14)

Low magnesium levels are linked to migraines; PPIs deplete magnesium. See a list of food sources.

Vitamin B3 and Red Yeast Rice (10:33)

Niacin lowers cholesterol but causes hot flashes and liver toxicity; statins are now prescribed. Bancroft discusses RYR benefits and side effects. Weight loss diets low in carbohydrates also lower cholesterol and hemoglobin A1C. High cholesterol can have underlying causes.

Vitamin B6 (01:37)

Pyridoxine deficiency can cause peripheral neuropathy; paradoxically, pyridoxine supplements can prevent PN in patients taking PN-causing drugs. It is safe for treating pregnancy-induced nausea.

Vitamin B7 (06:16)

Biotin is claimed to promote hair and nail growth by stimulating keratin production. Studies show high doses can slow progressive MS symptoms due to CNS myelin production; learn about MS types. Biotin can skew troponin and TSH lab test results.

Vitamin B9 (06:18)

Folic acid is essential for red blood cell production, DNA production, and neural tube closure in embryonic development. Learn about supplementation during pregnancy and birth defects caused by Vitamin B9 deficiency.

Vitamin B12 (06:19)

Vitamin B12 boosts cognitive function by maintaining CNS myelin. People at risk for deficiency include older adults, vegetarians or vegans, autoimmune disease patients, and patients with malabsorption. Learn about supplemental dosage.

Vitamin C (01:56)

Scurvy cases are rare today. Vitamin C neutralizes reactive oxygen radicals and is combined with thiamine and corticosteroids to treat sepsis.

Vitamin D (10:21)

Most Americans spend insufficient time outdoors for hormone conversion. People with darker skin pigmentation and the elderly are at higher risk of deficiency. See reference values and recommended supplement dosages.

Calcium Supplements (04:39)

Calcium citrate contains 20% of elemental calcium and carbonate contains 40%. However, citrate is better absorbed in patients with low stomach acid. Certain natural calcium supplements contain lead. See a list of dietary calcium sources.

Vitamin E (01:36)

The recommended daily intake is 15mg. Almonds are the best dietary source; vitamin E reduces liver fat in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. See health risks associated with high doses.

Bone and Muscle Strength (01:50)

Vitamin K can improve bone health. Older women should consume protein and do strength training.

Menopause (05:03)

Evidence shows S-Equol, black cohosh, and hypnosis are the best alternatives to hormone therapy. Soy may benefit Asian and Hispanic women, who can convert daidzein to equol. Estrogenic supplements are contraindicated in breast cancer or liver disease patients.

Genitourinary Syndrome and UTI Prevention (05:51)

Oil or lubricant reduces itching from atrophic vaginitis in post-menopausal women. Topical estrogen reduces recurrent UTIs in older women without increasing breast cancer risk. A new study says it does not matter in which direction women wipe.

Stress Reduction (06:45)

Chamomile and L-theanine found in tea improve stress and anxiety symptoms. Magnesium helps relax muscles and increases GABA. Passiflora and valerian reduce anxiety and improve sleep. Valium is contraindicated in the elderly.

Meditation (05:25)

Learn about mindfulness benefits for mental and physical health. Bancroft describes overcoming her skepticism about yoga and meditation practices. Learn about mental and physical benefits of interacting with animals.

Supplements for GI Health (02:11)

Ginger reduces nausea; peppermint reduces nausea but increases acid reflux; and chamomile reduces diarrhea.

Probiotics (16:27)

Antibiotics can cause diarrhea or yeast infections. Learn about prebiotics and probiotics, including food sources, strains, and dosages. Probiotics slightly reduce risk of C. diff; learn about the Number Needed to Treat concept and fecal transplants.

Melatonin, Acupuncture, and CBD (01:19)

Sundowning may result from abnormalities interfering with the 24 hour circadian rhythm; see melatonin dosage information. Acupuncture can help with chronic pain. Cannabidiol is non-addictive but can cause side effects and many products are contaminated with heavy metals.

Liver Health Supplements (01:36)

Learn about the benefits and functions of milk thistle, licorice, quercetin, N-Acetylcysteine, and coffee.

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Plants or Pills: A Practical Approach to Alternative Therapies

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $299.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $449.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $299.95



Dietary supplements (nutraceuticals), herbal remedies, vitamins, minerals, and other forms of complementary, alternative, and integrative therapies are flourishing in today's world of medicine. In this video seminar, nurse educator Barbara Bancroft reviews the myriad of choices patients have at their disposal--from the information (and misinformation) dispensed from the internet, to the wide variety of health food stores, to the ability to purchase dubious products from the “Marts”, and to borrowing homemade remedies from the neighbor's medicine cabinet. She reviews current studies on the top 20 herbal products from Butterbur (migraines) to Chamomile flower (colic in babies, anxiety in adults) to St John’s Wort (depression), Melatonin (sundowning, sleep, cancer prevention?), and Valerian root (Nature's Valium), presenting their pros and cons, their adverse effects, and their interactions with prescription drugs. She discusses the concepts of “Food as Pharmacy," looking at such diets as DASH, Mediterranean, KETO, PALEO, modified Atkin's, and the Eat Right for Your Blood Type Diet." Bancroft considers Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K and the evidence-based findings regarding their benefits in the right amounts. Minerals such as magnesium and zinc will be discussed as to their various roles in health and well-being. Bancroft also considers dietary "solutions" for high LDL cholesterol; a surprising “alternative” treatment for menopausal hot flashes; and potential benefits of meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy, sunlight, and humor.

Length: 263 minutes

Item#: BVL195737

ISBN: 978-1-64867-434-1

Copyright date: ©2019

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.