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INMD 620: Herbals, Phytonutrients


Herbals, Phytonutrients and Complementary Alternative Medicine

Module summary:

Sometimes called Natural Medicines-CAM involves the use of natural substances to treat and prevent disease. CAM generally is more effective for preventive medicine goals such as reducing risk of heart disease, cancer, immune complaints, diabetes, menopausal symptoms, chronic inflammation, depression etc, than it is for acute conditions such as pain, fever, injury and infection, although CAM can be useful for these conditions too. CAM works via multiple health end-points rather than merely 1 or 2. Eg Fish Oil Omega 3 fats & co-enzyme Q10 work by improving entire cardiovascular health, rather than focusing on treating only hypertension or only cholesterol. Therefore we say that CAM “complements” the body, meaning it works with the body to improve health, thereby reducing risk of disease.

Another aspect of CAM is that its primary focus is on preventing disease before it manifests, rather than treating the disease after the fact. This is achieved through improving health generally, rather than focusing on one specific symptom. This is what is meant by the statement that CAM is preventative medicine. Finally CAM can be used also with conventional allopathic medicines to either reduce side-effects (eg co-enzyme Q10 reduces some of the toxicity of statin medications) or to improve effectiveness (such as co-enzyme Q10 enhancing the hypotensive effects of anti-hypertensives).

Combining CAM with allopathic/conventional medicines is known as Integrative Medicine. However sometimes there can be an increased risk of side-effects, eg combining prescription anti-depressant (SSRI’s) with St Johns Wort (a natural SSRI) could result in serotonin syndrome. Sometimes a combination can result in a reduction in efficacy (such as soy isoflavones, blocking access to estrogen receptors, rendering hormonal HRT less effective; or St Johns Wort inducing liver enzymes that metabolize oral contraceptives, rendering them ineffective). In such cases it is not a good idea to combine CAM with allopathic medicines.

Module Learning Objectives:

This course meets the IFIM and AAIM conceptual framework themes of academic excellence, best practices and professionalism. The course objectives follow. Learners will:

  • Understand the definition of complementary alternative medicine and the subdivisions thereof.
  • Have an understanding of both minute dose medicine and naturopathic medicine.
  • Grasp the principles of herbal medicines
  • Understand the value of phytonutrients
  • Understand what is meant by a food supplement
  • Know the doses of certain vitamins and nutraceuticals that may be dangerous
  • Understand herb-drug interactions and which should be used with caution together.
  • Have an indication of which nutraceuticals to use for which medical condition.
  • Case studies using natural medicines and homeopathy will be provided.


  • Ziyaad Lahri, MD

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Chiropractors' Association of Australia - Approved for 200 FLA Units

Approved for up to 70 CE units in California

Application for CME credit has been filed with the American Academy of Family Physicians. Determination of credit is pending.


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Once you purchase and log into your course(s), no refunds will be issued for any reason. All courses or merchandise sold by the American College of Integrative and Functional Medicine, LLC, DBA; Advanced Med Academy is sold as-is without any guarantee. By making a purchase with American College of Integrative and Functional Medicine, LLC, DBA; Advanced Med Academy, you are confirming that you have read and understand our no refunds policy.


The delivery of integrative, holistic, or alternative medicine (sometimes referred to as "Complimentary Alternative Medicine or "CAM") may unintentionally include the delivery of services covered by health care plans (notably, by Medicare due to the age or condition of patients triggering coverage). Since CAM practices are largely cash or private fee practices, practitioners must cautiously and carefully ensure that their services do not collect patient payments for what Medicare covers. With the Accountable Care Act being implemented on a national level, more preventative health care services are now covered by Medicare. Coverage of certain preventative care services is now enhanced or expanded. Care must be taken, therefore, since some CAM services delivered by practitioners may constitute preventative medical services mandated as covered by Medicare with no co-pay or deductible owed. HMO plans prohibit the delivery of medical services covered by the plan for patient compensation in excess of plan reimbursement, and require advance patient consent for voluntary non-medical amenities triggering additional patient payment obligations. Additionally, HIPAA/HITECH implements important patient privacy protections and may be triggered by the storage or handling of any electronic patient information. Federal law mandates patients have access to electronic health records, therefore, care must be taken to avoid charging fees for electronic health records access that is mandated by federal law, or for charges in excess of federal guidelines. Various states often have privacy and medical records access laws similar to federal laws. CAM practices often, but not always, engage in electronic communication with patients and involve family members or significant others with CAM consultations, so care must be taken regarding HIPAA/HITECH compliance with respect to privacy and records access. HIPAA/HITECH requires separate personal health information (PHI) written consent by patients, along with updated notices of privacy practices (NPPs) toward HIPAA/HITECH compliance. Due to the complexities of reimbursement and privacy laws, CAM practitioners are strongly advised to seek competent legal counsel to achieve compliance, and should not rely on IFIM presentations. Materials and information presented by IFIM are necessarily general, non-specific, and do not constitute or replace legal advice. The IFIM specifically disclaims that it is providing legal compliance guidelines, representations, warranties or assurances.