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Complementary medicine

Americans are increasingly using complementary and alternative medicine

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: complementary medicine, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Acupuncture, biofeedback, herbs, meditation, yoga, massage therapy and other forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are not routinely used by conventional Western medicine. In fact, they are often dismissed as worthless and unproven or attacked as downright quackery. But an increasing number of Americans apparently disagree.

Here's proof: a just released report from the National Center for Health Statistics and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) concludes people in the U.S. are using natural, non-medical healing methods more frequently than ever.

The researchers analyzed data collected in 2007 and compared it to the last time this information was collected, back in 2002. In all, the 2007 National Health Interview Survey found approximately four out of 10 Americans used some form of CAM during the year. Clearly, people want to use these modalities and are willing to pay for the help they provide because alternative and complementary therapies are rarely covered by health insurance. Overall, CAM now accounts for 11.2 percent of total out-of-pocket health care expenses -- and that adds up to a whopping $33.9 billion spent yearly.

Acupuncture, naturopathy, biofeedback, guided imagery, meditation, deep breathing exercises and yoga are among the alternative approaches to health that have particularly grown in popularity over the last few years, according to the survey. In a statement to the media, the researchers noted: "It is clear from this data that Americans are utilizing CAM treatments -- and psychophysiological interventions (i.e., treatments that affect both the mind and the body such as biofeedback and various forms of relaxation therapies) -- with increasing frequency."

Following on the heels of the 2007 National Health Interview Survey results comes another study documenting the popularity of CAM. Research just released at the 2009 American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) Annual Meeting held in San Diego suggests that a growing number of people with chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) are turning to complementary and alternative medical therapies for help.

CRS involves inflammation in one or more of the paranasal sinuses and can cause nasal discharge, facial pain, decreased sense of smell, cough, fever and other symptoms that continue for at least 12 weeks. The condition results in around 22 million office visits to doctors and more than 500,000 emergency department visits in the U.S. annually, according to some estimates.

In a paper presented at the AAO-HNSF annual meeting, scientists from Scotland found that 65 percent of clinic patients surveyed over a two month period used CAM -- including herbal and non-herbal alternative therapies (such as acupuncture, massage, aloe vera, and cod liver oil). Thirty percent of these patients used it to treat their chronic rhinosinusitis.

The researchers noted that only 43 percent of CAM users told their medical doctors that they had turned to alternative and complementary therapies. That finding and the results of the National Center for Health Statistics and NCCAM survey suggest mainstream medical doctors may not have a true picture about just how many of their patients are using and benefiting from the natural healing methods that comprise CAM.

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