06 Apr Have a health condition? 5 helpful websites no one ever told you about
Whether you’re a longtime Hormonology reader or you recently stumbled across my website, you may wonder where I find all the many fascinating studies about how hormones impact your behavior and health and natural remedies for treating cycle-related woes.
Truth is, they can be accessed by anyone…if you know where to look.
Since I’m less interested in job security as I am in sharing the wealth of knowledge out there, I’d like to share 5 of my favorite websites where you can go to learn more about your hormones or other specific health or psychological conditions.
Why would you want to? Because there’s a large body of research available that can point you to an alternative or better way to prevent or treat a disease or ailment–such as irritable bowel syndrome, depression, infertility, anxiety, etc.–that your health care provider may not be aware of.
For instance, I’ve personally done a lot of research on migraines. I get them. I hate them. So, I research them. And as a result, I take a bunch of vitamins and supplements (including CoQ10, vitamins B2, B6 and B12, magnesium and grapeseed extract) that have been shown to reduce their frequency and intensity. And, they’ve worked: I’ve cut my migraine days by more than half and the intensity by about half as well. (If you get migraines, check out these 12 study-proven migraine remedies I reported on here.)
If you or a loved one has a condition you’d like to learn more about, here’s where to start your own research….
PubMed.com and ScienceDirect.com: These two websites offer millions of published studies to review. They’re geared toward professionals in the research and medical fields so you’ll find that they’re written with a lot of medical jargon. But, don’t be scared off by that. In many cases, the study’s “abstract” (which is a summary) can give you the gist of what the research is about–and the final sentence or two is typically the study’s conclusion, which bottom-lines the results for you.
Use the “advanced search” features to home in on the exact condition you want to research so you don’t end up with thousands of studies to pore over in your search results. Then, take the studies you want to learn more about to your health care provider who can read it and give you more explanation.
In some cases, you can access the full study (which goes into more detail about how it was conducted, the results and the conclusion) for free and in other cases, you’ll have to pay for access, which is approximately $40 per study for 24 hours depending on the journal in which it was published. (Tip: When I buy access to a study, I copy the whole thing onto my hard drive so I have it permanently. As long as you don’t share the study publicly, this is fine.) You may also be able to rent a study for a lesser amount–usually about $6–however, you won’t be able to save it to your hard drive. (Buuuuutttt, you can use your “print screen” option to copy the whole thing–shhhh, you didn’t hear that from me!)
ScienceDaily.com: The benefit of this website is that, for the most part, the description of each study is written in plain English that most folks can easily understand. The downside is that the reason these studies are easier to read is because they’re usually written by publicists from the journal that published the study or the university where one of the study’s researchers is employed. This means, you’re only accessing studies that publicists felt were important for the public to know about or would garner publicity–not the wide breadth of research you could access in the former two websites. Still, there are lots of studies to read about on this site that are easily understandable, which makes it a valuable place to do your research.
Eurekalert.org: Like ScienceDaily.com, Eurekalert offers easy-to-read news releases about the latest research. Just click the category you want to learn about. This website just underwent a redesign that now allows you to access their archives without a press pass.
PDFSearchEngine.org: This website is my secret weapon–and I’m happy to share it with you. When I can’t find a study or if a journal is charging an obscene amount of money to access the full version of a certain study I want to read more about, I head here and do a search for a .pdf version of it. In many cases, researchers have uploaded copies of their studies as .pdf documents that are easily accessed from here. If you can’t find the .pdf version, try the other options, such as MS Word and .txt files. You’d be surprised how many folks upload their research to websites in these formats.
Before you start doing research…
Be aware that while there are a lot of great, well-researched studies on these websites, some aren’t as well-designed.
Generally speaking, randomized placebo-controlled trials are considered the most trustworthy because the participants are randomly chosen to receive a treatment or a placebo, which allows researchers to evaluate the treatment results more accurately. And double-blind randomized placebo-controlled studies are even better since this means the researchers are unaware of who received the active treatment and the placebo, reducing the potential for bias.
Correlation studies (where researchers find an association but not a direct cause) and retrospective studies (where participants are counted on to recall certain factors about their lives from months, even years ago, like their diet or how much they exercised) are considered less reliable. But, many times, they’re still a good starting point if you’re looking for more information.
And any study that’s been funded by a business that benefits from the results of the research (for instance, food manufacturers or cosmeceutical companies, which are cosmetics that have some kind of health-boosting benefit) obviously are low on the totem pole of trust.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m personally not a fan of animal studies because I deem it inhumane. Aside from that, while researchers have advanced human health in many ways using it, in general, many scientists agree that testing on animals won’t guarantee the same results on humans. So, these types of studies are also considered low on the reliability scale.
All this said, it’s expensive to conduct well-designed studies. So, it’s worth keeping an open mind when looking at research and seeing if one scientist’s findings can point you in a direction that leads to other research that backs it up and you may find helpful.
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