ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
Naprapathy: A Hands-On Approach to Pain Management
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Healthy adults have potential autoimmune disease-causing cells
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Body Fat, Muscle Distribution Linked to RA Disability
CANCER
Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
CAREGIVING
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
Older Caregivers Prone to Worse Sleep Patterns
With Alzheimer's, Health-Care Costs Could Triple
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
DIABETES
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Herb Shows Potential for Rheumatoid Arthriti
TV Food Ads Promote Bad Diets
Antioxidants Abound in Cereals, Popcorn, Whole-Grain Snacks
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Gene Mutation May Cause Some Cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Agent Orange Exposure Tied to Prostate Cancer Return
Smog Tougher on the Obese
EYE CARE, VISION
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
FITNESS
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
Swine Flu May Pose Problems for Pregnant Women
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Music Soothes Anxiety as Well as Massage Does
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
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