ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
B Cells Can Act Alone in Autoimmune Diseases
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Fractures in Older Adults Up Death Risk
CANCER
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
Injected Medication Errors a Major Problem
New Guidelines for Treating Heart Failure
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
DIABETES
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
DIET, NUTRITION
Quick Weight Loss May Be Best for Long-Term Success
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Sunken, Unexploded Bombs Pose Cancer Risk
Controversial Chemical Lingers Longer in the Body
Short-Term Air Pollution Exposure May Damage DNA
EYE CARE, VISION
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
Vision Test for Young Children Called Unreliable
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
FITNESS
Avoiding a Holiday Season of Discontent
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
Babies Who Eat Fish Lower Eczema Risk
MEN'S HEALTH
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
SENIORS
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
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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