Alternative (Natural) Treatment Options
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In some cases, cataracts are mild enough to be treated naturally, with various herbs, exercises and other alternative therapies. Regardless, if an individual wishes to try this path, they should always speak to a doctor first as sometimes herbs and medically prescribed drugs can have serious interactions. Similarly, it is not wise to treat a serious condition without the experience of a trained specialist.
The following information was extracted from Nutrient Protocols from 2001, written by Alan R Gaby, M.D. with contributions from Jonathan V. Wright, M.D. The alternative methods described below, used in a cataracts treatment protocol, are not based on clinical trials in humans, but rather on "animal research and human epidemiological studies". 12 However, as Dr. Gaby and Dr. Wright mention, there are several anecdotal reports of cataracts in early stages which have regressed with the use of some or all of the following recommendations.
- Limit consumption of lactose-containing foods (milk products). In animal studies, galactose, a component of lactose, has been shown to promote cataracts formation.
- A riboflavin deficiency has been implicated in cataracts development. Therefore, a supplemental dosage of riboflavin, 10-50 mg/day, may help treat or at least slow the progression of cataracts formation.
- Quercetin is recommended in a dosage of 500-1000 mg/day. WARNING: Quercetin may increase the possibility of birth defects in pregnant women and is not recommended during pregnancy.
- A supplemental dosage of 15-50 mg/day of zinc along with 2-3 mg/day of copper may help with cataracts.
- Taking Vitamin C, 1000 mg, two times a day may help to decrease damage caused by free radicals, in turn helping to treat cataracts.
- Supplementing the diet with Vitamin E at 400-800 IU/day plus selenium at 200-300 mcg/day has effectively cured cataracts in dogs.
- 200-600 mg/day of N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) along with zinc and copper may treat cataracts by working to destroy free radicals. 12
Other forms of natural therapies, although not backed by human studies, include Ayurveda, imagery, juice therapy and reflexology.
The common therapy if using Ayurveda to treat cataracts is to bathe the eye with an eye wash made of triphala tea which can be found in most Indian pharmacies and some natural health stores. The tea is composed of a powder of three Indian tree fruits. The recommendation is to wash the affected eye in the steeped, cooled tea up to three times a day. 13
In imagery therapy, there are many images which may help to heal the cataracts. An image should appeal to each individual in order to work successfully. Different imagery sessions can be found in books, on tapes or by seeking the expertise of a professional who works with imagery therapy. 13
Juice therapy is based on the body's need for additional antioxidants, vitamins and minerals with which it can fight the free radicals and damaging molecules that are attacking the protein of the lenses. However, most juicing experts agree that juicing therapy will only slow down the progression, not reverse the condition. 13
Reflexology has been used in some cases of cataracts therapy. The points used in reflexology hone in on the "eye, ear, neck, cervical spine, kidney and all of the points on the tops and bottoms of the toes, with emphasis on the pituitary and thyroid gland." 13 Foot reflexology charts and reflexology books are available to help locate the points which should be stimulated for cataracts treatment. 13
Finally, some acupuncturists claim that they are able to help in the treatment of cataracts by unblocking stagnant energy (Chi) within the meridians of the body. This increases the circulation of the blood throughout the entire body, possibly increasing the amount of nutrients that reach the area of the eye in need of extra antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. There is the possibility that with an experienced and licensed acupuncturist plus diet changes, cataracts may be reduced or at least the progression slowed or halted altogether.