ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Cane Use May Cut Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis
A Little Drink May Be Good for Your Bones
Extra Pounds in Mid-Life Affect Later Mobility
CANCER
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Immune Therapy May Aid Kids With Neuroblastoma
Minorities Distrust Medical System More
CAREGIVING
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Holistic Dentistry-My View
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
The Best Diet? That Depends on You
Vitamin D Vital for the Heart
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Home Renovations by Affluent Families Can Unleash Lead Threat
Restaurant Sushi May Have More Mercury Than Store-Bought Fare
EYE CARE, VISION
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
'Blind' Man Navigates Obstacle Course Without Error
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
FITNESS
Good Warm-Ups Could Halve Sports Injuries
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Week of Historic Senate Hearings on Integrative Medicine May Open New Doors
Deployment Takes Toll on Army Wives
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
MEN'S HEALTH
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
Caffeine in Pregnancy Associated With Low Birth Weight Risk
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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