ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
'Snowbirds' Beware the Climate Changes
Scientists ID New Genes Tied to Crohn's Disease
CANCER
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Omega-3 Fatty Acid May Help 'Preemie' Girls' Brains
Mom's Smoking May Lead to SIDS
Coordination Has Led to Quicker Heart Treatment
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
DIABETES
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Just Say No to Nuts During Pregnancy
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Old-Growth Forests Dying Off in U.S. West
Household Insecticides May Be Linked to Autoimmune Diseases
Former Inmates at Increased Risk for High Blood Pressure
EYE CARE, VISION
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients' Sight
Vision Test for Young Children Called Unreliable
FITNESS
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Household Insecticides May Be Linked to Autoimmune Diseases
Vitamin D Best Taken With Largest Meal of Day, Study Finds
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
Quick Orthopedic Repair Can Save Young Shoulders
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All
Heal Your LifeŽ Tips for Living Well
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
SENIORS
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Add your Article

U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine

THURSDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- Americans spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket on complementary and alternative medicine in 2007 alone, U.S. health officials report.

CAM includes medical practices and products, such as herbal supplements, meditation, chiropractic and acupuncture, which are not part of conventional medicine.

"The bottom line is that Americans spend a lot of money on CAM products, classes or materials or practitioner visits," Dr. Josephine P. Briggs, director of the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, said during a morning teleconference Thursday.

The main reasons Americans turn to alternative medicine is for pain relief and to contribute to their health and well-being, Briggs added.

Briggs noted the survey was done to find out which areas of CAM warrant research by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The survey was done without regard as to whether any of these alternative or complementary approaches actually work, she said.

In the United States, CAM accounts for 1.5 percent of all health-care costs in the United States, but 11.2 percent of all out-of-pocket costs. Total health-care spending in the United States totals $2.2 trillion and out-of-pocket costs for conventional medicine comprise $286.6 billion, according to the report.

In all, about 38 percent of adults use some type of CAM.

"Two-thirds of the money spent on CAM is spent on self-care therapies," report author Richard L. Nahin, acting director of the Division of Extramural Research at U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, said during the teleconference.

Self-care therapies are things you can do on your own without having to see a health-care provider, Nahin explained.

Out of the $33.9 billion spent out-of-pocket on CAM, about $22 billion went toward self-care costs. Most of the money ($14.8 billion) went to buy non-vitamin, non-mineral natural products such as fish oil, glucosamine and echinacea, according to the report. That's equivalent to about one-third of total out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs, the researchers noted.

In addition, $11.9 billion went to some 354.2 million visits to CAM practitioners such as acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists and homeopaths, which is about one-quarter of total out-of-pocket spending on physician visits.

Of the 20 conditions for which people use CAM, nine are associated with chronic pain, Nahin said.

"These data clearly show us that Americans use CAM to treat these conditions, often which are very hard to treat with regular medical approaches," he said.

The report used data from U.S. 2007 National Health Interview Survey.

The report was prepared by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.

Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine and director of the Integrative Medicine Center at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn., said "this report lends support to the growing field of integrative medicine, which strives to blend conventional and complementary practices thoughtfully and in light of the available evidence."

"The data reported here indicate that CAM remains very popular and its use constitutes a major portion of total health-care utilization in the U.S.," Katz said. "This is important, as it suggests that many patients have needs or preferences not met by the prevailing practices of conventional medicine alone."

The data also suggest that patients are increasingly informed about the evidence base for alternative medicine practices, and are shifting toward those that are better-substantiated and that's a positive trend, Katz said.

"The persistent popularity of CAM despite the associated out-of-pocket costs attest to its important potential to address health-care needs otherwise unmet," Katz said. "Responsible use of science and responsiveness to the needs and preferences of patients need not be mutually exclusive."

"But there is the risk of using poorly regulated and unsubstantiated potions and practices more likely to harm than help," he added.

SOURCES: July 30, 2009, teleconference with Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., director, and Richard L. Nahin, Ph.D., M.P.H., acting director, Division of Extramural Research, U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Bethesda, Md.; David L. Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Prevention Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., and director, Integrative Medicine Center, Griffin Hospital, Derby, Conn.; July 30, 2009, report, Costs of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Frequency of Visits to CAM Practitioners: United States, 2007