December 12, 2008

Use of unconventional medicine rising among Americans

An increasing number of Americans, adults as well as children, are turning to alternative medicine to ease their chronic health problems, confirms the latest health report.

According to a survey by the National Institutes of Health
(NIH) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), nearly four in 10 U.S. adults and one in nine kids are using complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM).

There has been a significant rise in the use of some form of complementary and alternative medicine by adults in the recent years as the figures registered an increase to 38 percent in 2007 from 36 percent in 2002.

The leading problem for which more and more Americans are seeking complimentary and alternative medicine is back pain, followed by neck pain, joint pain and arthritis. Some of the most common unconventional treatments include acupuncture, message therapy, meditation, herbal medicines, chiropractic techniques and other natural products which are being considered of great help to ease chronic pain, NIH researcher Richard Nahin stated.

Dr. Josephine Briggs, director of the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the NIH, shared his views saying, “As I look at this data, what I'm most struck with is how much people are turning to CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) approaches as part of the management of chronic pain conditions, particularly chronic back pain, but also neck pain and musculoskeletal pain and headache.”

Briggs told the reporters, “And from my days as an internist seeing patients in my office, I know that these are conditions that are hard to manage and tough to treat.”

The nationwide 2007 survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention included responses from 23,000 adults and 9,500 children.

According to the survey, 12 percent of children under age 18 used unconventional medicine for various reasons including colds, anxiety, stress, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder apart from back pain.

Although the risks for children using alternative medicines are not yet clear, these natural therapies along with herbal medicines are emerging as the latest booming business considering the fact that more and more people believe these have fewer side-effects.

Growing number of people reportedly resorted to natural products including herbal remedies and some other types of dietary supplements other than vitamins and minerals and the trend showed a significant increase among those age 60 and above, Nahin maintained.

Known for its curative powers, fish oil was one such natural product which was an instant hit with adults for bringing high cholesterol and high blood pressure under control, while glucosamine was being used for relief in joints pain. Echinacea, a medicinal plant used for curing common colds, was used by an increasing number of children. Apart from that, fish oil was used by children for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Educated elite and women found deep breathing exercises, meditation and message therapy to be of significant help as compared to conventional treatment options available.

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