TODAY   |  April 24, 2014

Can herbs help? Dr. Oz explains Eastern medicine

The health guru joins TODAY to give us the scoop on herbal medicine and discusses some of the latest treatments.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> for years you've heard about the benefits of alternative health treatments like herbal remedies . now one of the top medical institutions in this country is turning to them. we'll talk to dr. oz about that in a moment. but first, more on the cleveland clinic 's approach.

>> a yoga class is not something you'd expect at one of the top hospitals in the country. but at the cleveland clinic eastern and western medicine are practiced alongside each other at the center for integrated medicine. the latest edition? that's right. herbal medicine .

>> there are more ways of healing than just our conventional medicine .

>> herbal treatments have been used in china and other eastern countries for centuries, with much success. and now western doctors are embracing more of those practices here.

>> it doesn't have to be an either/or. we're seeing i think the best results often when we can combine both philosophies.

>> reporter: the cleveland clinic is among the first hospital to dispense herbal remedies alongside traditional medicine , but it may not be the last. nearly 40% of americans now use health care approaches developed outside of main stream medicine. while there is little scientific research on using herbs as medicine in the u.s. doctors here at the cleveland clinic believe chinese herbs can be very effective when properly monitored and administered.

>> i think there is a misconception it is something natural, it's safe. that is not always the case. they really need to be under the guidance of, you know, an integrated physician who has experience and training in this field.

>> here to walk us through some of the most popular herbal remedies , dr. oz. good to see you.

>> good morning.

>> 5,000 years people have been using herbal remedies in eastern cultures. are you surprised it's taken so long to make main stream medicine here?

>> part of the challenge is in america we want quick fixes now. a lot of these therapies grew up over time and are more subtle. your mood is not perfect. you need more alert. you don't just feel as fast as you used to be. those aren't the kinds of things we have easy fixes for. this is a globalization of medicine.

>> we'll look at some of the herbal remedies . rules for use? if you're using prescription drugs do you have to check with a doctor first?

>> one of the biggest complications is they do affect pharmaceuticals. these things are powerful. you need to talk to someone knowledgeable in this area. not all doctors are.

>> cinnamon. i say good on apple sauce . you say every diabetic should be using this.

>> diabetics and prediabetics. one in three people can hear our voice right now are in that category. cinnamon helps the liver deal with insulin better. it is very natural and straight forward. it was in the bible. this stuff is effective.

>> mint.

>> wonderful for bellies. moms know that. it helps gastric secretions, helps intestines relax a bit. you can take it in a tea form. it is easy to do every day. another major benefit of herbs you don't have to take a pill.

>> do you need massive quantities to have a real effect?

>> not with mint. however, talking about rosemary and sage which are both valuable for the brain, you do need higher doses than normally in an herb. you want to concentrate it and get the oil. the clinical trials were done that way.

>> when you say good for the brain it sounds a little bit like gobbledygook. how can they help the brain?

>> sage, interestingly, take oils of sage. give it to folks and test their word memory. dramatic improvement in their memory. rosemary is one of the best ways at improving alertness. in the trial in oil form, aromatherapy, rubbed it on the arms for three minutes and kids did a lot better at math.

>> what about parsley?

>> great for the eyes. it helps protect the eyes from uv. here you don't need the high doses. also a good diuretic. a little parsley will help you get rid of extra fluid that swells you up.

>> last?

>> this is nature's valium. it is called valerium. it is very popular. it is very helpful to relax people, one of the most popular herbal therapies out there.

>> why aren't more people using these things?

>> i adore them. quality control wasn't there and i did an incredible sting which we'll see early next week on the show where i went out to meet a person making these products that aren't really real making tens of millions of dollars. they are driving on your dollar. the cleveland clinic and other major institutions are incorporating this and it's making it safer. this is the world's medicine, it's been there forever. we should take advantage.