Alternative medical treatments, such as massage, acupuncture, and Echinacea, are embraced by 38% of Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health. So what percentage of celebrities are into cupping and high colonics? No one really knows, but their choices fascinate and influence us. Here are 21 of Hollywood's hottest who, for better or worse, have embraced natural medicine.
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Although pancreatic cancer is often life-threatening, Jobs actually had a rare, treatable form of the disease. But the tech visionary, a practicing Buddhist and strict vegetarian, pursued alternative therapies for nine months before eventually electing to follow a more conventional path. Although he had hoped to avoid an operation, Jobs had surgery in 2004, but by then the cancer had already spread.
Some have speculated that had Jobs proceeded with conventional treatment for pancreatic cancer from the start, he may have won the battle.
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The Charlie's Angels bombshell was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006. To complement her chemotherapy treatments, she reportedly traveled to Germany for "natural supplements and also immune treatments" that aren't approved in the United States, according to Access Hollywood.
Fawcett lost her battle with cancer in 2009.
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A regular proponent of various too-good-to-be-true-sounding cleanses, Paltrow is no stranger to natural remedies. In 2004, the actress showed up to a premiere with circular spots across her back, the telltale signs of a procedure called cupping.
The process involves warm glass cups, which are placed on the skin to make a vacuum. It's said to increase blood flow, open pores, and allow toxins to leave the body.
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When the actress's son was diagnosed with autism in 2005, she went looking for answers and came across Generation Rescue, a community of families who believe vaccines and antibiotics are to blame for their children's autism.
McCarthy now serves as president of the organization, which promotes "recovery" from autism. Despite repeated debunking of the decade-old study that alleged vaccines cause autism, many parents continue to question vaccine safety and reject the conventional medical practice outright, putting their children at risk of potentially deadly diseases.
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The media mogul has drawn criticism for her promotion of unapproved treatments and alternative therapies. Several natural-medicine proponents have appeared on her TV show, including Jenny McCarthy.
Although she said in a statement that she believes viewers understand she is merely presenting information and not endorsing natural medicine or any of the procedures she has discussed, she has, given the widespread affect she has on her audience, undoubtedly convinced many viewers that these treatments canand dowork.
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No surprise here, given that Mehmet Oz, MD, was a frequent guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The cardiologist-turned-TV-host has integrated alternative treatments into his conventional practice. He has taken flack from the mainstream media for his methods, but he says he continues to use alternative therapies both in his practice and at home.
He also regularly practices Transcendental Meditation (a type of concentrative meditation where a person focuses on one sight or sound) and has been doing yoga daily for more than 20 years, a ritual he calls the most important health practice I have adopted.
He recommends to patients other alternative treatments, such as mud baths for people with arthritis or other joint problems and aromatherapy oils to reduce stress and ease muscle aches.
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The Princess of Wales was a regular at an alternative-medicine treatment facility called Chinese Clinic, according to People magazine. She is said to have taken part in reflexology treatments, a stimulation of the feet, hands, and ears that aims to impact other, more troublesome parts of the body. Some of the clinic's most popular alternative treatments included colonic hydrotherapy, electrical stimulation of the facial muscles for an instant "lift," and Australian herbal remedies.
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Nicknamed "The Body," supermodel Macpherson spoke with U.K. magazine Fabulous in 2010 about her "Chinese medicine perspective" on health, which she said "promotes and maintains wellness rather than treats illness."
She said she has undergone regular acupuncture treatments and seen a doctor who treated many of her ailments with herbal remedies.
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In 2005, the actor publicly criticized Brooke Shields's treatment for postpartum depression after the 2003 birth of her daughter. Cruise spoke out against the use of antidepressants, saying Shields didn't understand "the history of psychiatry."
When Matt Lauer asked him to explain on the Today show, Cruise expressed doubts about the existence of depression, saying, "There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance."
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Christy Turlington Burns
The supermodel-turned-documentary-filmmaker told Psychology Today that she started practicing yoga at age 18, and was eventually introduced to Ayurveda, a 5,000-year-old Indian holistic science about discovering individual balance. This ancient theory of medicine emphasizes healthy habits such as massage, meditation, and healthy eating to prevent and treat illness.
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After checking into rehab for cocaine addiction, her career on the line, the supermodel was photographed leaving a friend's house with two bandages on her right ear, thought to be covering the marks of acupuncture treatment, according to the BBC.
The therapy may reduce withdrawal symptoms and even prevent relapse in people who are addicted to drugs.
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One of Hollywood's most famous Buddhists, Gere started meditating at age 24 and continues to do so daily. He told PBS that it's a creative process involving finding "the space between thoughts" and that it's different for him every time.
The relaxation technique can ease a range of ailmentsincluding chronic pain, depression, and insomniaand it may even help smokers quit.
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Along with chemotherapy, the singer and actress used complementary treatments such as herbal supplements, acupuncture, meditation, and visualization to battle breast cancer. When she was first diagnosed in 1992, she even considered forgoing chemotherapy entirely in favor of homeopathic treatments and acupuncture, but eventually "common sense prevailed," she told CNN.
Maintaining a positive mindset throughout the experience also helped her heal, she said.
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The hip-hop mogul may not seem like the typical meditation practitioner, but he's been getting his om on for over a decade.
In a 2010 blog on the Huffington Post, Simmons wrote that meditation "has given me energy, strength, health, wisdom, and access to my own inner stillness, inner silence, inner bliss. It is my connection to myself; it is my connection to the universe."
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After claiming that urinating on your feet is a cure for athlete's foot on The Late Show With David Letterman in 1994, it's not surprising that Madonna has ascribed to some strange natural cures. Today, the buff performer is a fan of more mainstream alternative practices, such as yoga.
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A sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll-loving guitarist and singer isn't the typical poster boy for natural remedies. But in 2008, Metallica's Hetfield told the Houston Chronicle in order to get through the band's tour to promote that year's Death Magnetic album, he was trying out some alternative treatments, including reflexology, acupuncture, and drinking a "secret vegetable concoction."
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The bad-boy actor was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly cancer of the lung lining, in 1979. He traveled to Mexico in July 1980 to be treated with pancreatic enzymes, a controversial therapy developed by a dentist who had since been "blacklisted" by the American Cancer Society, the New York Times reported.
McQueen is also said to have received 50 daily vitamins and minerals, psychotherapy, coffee enemas, and injections made from sheep and cattle fetuses, all while taking part in healing massages and prayer sessions. After additional treatments with laetrile, a controversial apricot-pit-based injection, McQueen said he was in recovery, but he died shortly thereafter, following surgery to remove cancer from his abdomen and neck.
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The actress is no stranger to alternative treatments, having cited unregulated hormone creams, around 60 vitamins and supplements, and estrogen injections directly into her vagina as her personal fountain of youth.
But after surgery and radiation treatment for breast cancer in 2001, Somers opted for a drug made from mistletoe extract over chemotherapy, and wrote a book promoting the work of some very unconventional physicians.
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In a 2000 visit to Larry King Live, the Oscar nominee sat down with well-known alternative-medicine practitioners Dr. Weil and Eric Braverman, MD, to discuss the hormonal injections Nolte was receiving.
He also said he was undergoing treatments in hyperbaric oxygen chambers, a practice that involves breathing pure oxygen inside of a specially pressurized tank to promote healing.
Energy healing is similar to Reiki. Both treatments are said to harness positive energy, whether through touch or close proximity, to break negative thoughts and promote the body's natural healing processes.
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Of course Andrew Weil, MD, an integrative-medicine specialist, digs herbs and tinctures. But he sees the wisdom in conventional medicine as well. He surprised some when he famously said, "If I'm in a car accident, don't take me to an herbalist. If I have bacterial pneumonia, give me antibiotics. But when it comes to maximizing the body's natural healing potential, a mix of conventional and alternative procedures seems like the only answer."
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