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Alternative medicine

Alternative Medicine Soars as Pharmaceuticals Sour

Thursday, September 17, 2009 by: Ethan Huff
Tags: alternative medicine, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) For those not familiar with the term, integrative medicine signifies the joining of conventional medical practice with alternative methods utilizing a complementary approach. Due to rapidly growing interest among the general population in treatments other than conventional drugs and surgery, many in mainstream medicine are adopting this dual modus operandi when it comes to prescribing treatment options to their patients. In other words, with alternative medicine on the rise, conventional medicine is quickly becoming an outmoded remnant of the past.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), roughly 38 percent of adults and 12 percent of children utilize some form of alternative medicine or treatment. According to a 2007 survey conducted by NCCAM, adults in the U.S. spent nearly $34 billion in out-of-pocket expenses in order to obtain alternative treatments. This figure does not take into account alternative services covered by insurance reimbursement, signifying an even greater unknown amount expended for alternative treatments.

Of the roughly $34 billion spent, 65 percent was for "self-care" treatment in the form of natural products and supplements, homeopathic medicine, and various exercise and physical fitness classes. The other 35 percent comprised general alternative practitioner costs.

Despite a ruinous economy, dietary supplement sales in particular have seen continued growth over the past several years. According to research conducted by Nutrition Business Journal, dietary supplement sales increased 6 percent to $25.2 billion in 2008. The year prior also saw a 6 percent increase, despite slowing growth in most other product sectors.

Meanwhile, growth in prescription drug sales has been rapidly declining for the past eight years, slowing by 52 percent in 2007 over 2006 figures, and plunging a whopping 65 percent in 2008. Overall, growth in pharmaceutical drug sales has been dwindling since 2001, a sign that the tides may definitively be turning in favor of alternative and natural remedies.

Many insurance companies are also now covering alternative therapies including chiropractic care, acupuncture, massages, biofeedback, and herbal remedies. Some even offer discounted memberships to health clubs and other wellness incentive programs to encourage disease prevention and healthy living. After all, prevention is the best medicine as far as insurance companies are concerned as it saves them money in the long run.

Integrating medicine is proving to serve as an amiable catalyst for educating the public about the legitimacy and superiority of a natural, preventive approach to health care. It is guiding public thought away from the reactional symptom management paradigm towards natural disease remediation and prevention. As a result, what was once considered alternative is quickly becoming the new conventional.

Sources:

Nahin RL, Barnes PM, Stussman BJ, and Bloom B. What is the Attraction of Alternative Medicine? - MedScape Today from WebMD

Statistics on CAM Costs - NCCAM

Emerging International Markets for Dietary Supplements - Natural Products Insider

Prescription Drug Sales Growth Slows Again in U.S. - WSJ Blogs

About the author

Ethan Huff is a freelance writer and health enthusiast who loves exploring the vast world of natural foods and health, digging deep to get to the truth. He runs an online health publication of his own at http://wholesomeherald.blogspot.com.


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