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Originally published March 28 2008

U.S. Military Personnel Use Alternative Medicine Just Like Everyone Else

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Members of the U.S. military use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) at approximately the same rate and in the same demographic patterns as the wider U.S. population, according to a study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Researchers surveyed 5,000 enrolled members of the U.S. Navy or Marines, and received 1,305 useable responses. Among those who responded, 37 percent had used at least one form of CAM therapy in the previous year. Women were more than twice as likely to use CAM therapies than men, while officers were 50 percent more likely than enlisted troops to use them. Those with higher levels of physical pain and/or dissatisfaction with conventional medical care were significantly more likely to seek CAM.

These patterns are similar to those found for the wider U.S. population. Prior studies have suggested that 40 percent of U.S. residents use at least one CAM therapy per year, an increase of 25 percent since 1990. The "average" user tends to be a white, educated, middle-class woman between the ages of 25 and 49.

In the current study, military personnel were most likely to use herbal therapies, high-dose megavitamin therapy and massage, and least likely to use biofeedback, homeopathy and hypnosis. Sixty-seven percent of those who underwent hypnosis also used relaxation therapy, and 78 percent of homeopathy patients also used herbal therapy.

Studies of the general population have found chiropractic, herbal medicine, massage and relaxation therapy to be the most popular treatments.

The researchers noted that because the data were self-reported, they may not be entirely reliable. In addition, they may not accurately represent the habits of Navy and Marine personnel in general, because more than half of those surveyed did not respond.

A prior study of military families found that 28 percent reported using at least one CAM per year, while studies of veterans found that between 27 and 50 percent did so.

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