Thursday, August 6, 2009

American spend billions on alternative medicine

According to a July 30 article on WebMD, Americans "spend almost a third as much money out-of pocket on herbal supplements and other alternative medicines as they do on prescription drugs."

In a new government report, out-of-pocket spending on alternative medicines like herbal supplements, chiropractic visits, and meditation was estimated at about $34 billion in one year.

“The bottom line is that Americans spend a lot of money on CAM products, classes, materials and practitioner visits,” National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Director Josephine P. Briggs, MD, said. “We estimate that this (represents) approximately 11% of the total out-of-pocket spending on health care.”

Highlights from the report released by NCHS and NCAAM include:
  • In 2007, 38 million adults spent $12 billion on about 354 million visits to CAM practitioners.
  • Two-thirds of the out-of-pocket spending did not involve a practitioner, but alternatives like over-the-counter herbal therapies, classes, and materials.
  • The largest single expenditure was for "non-vitamin, non-mineral herbal supplements and other products (almost $15 billion) followed by practitioner visits ($12 billion), stretching and meditation-related classes such as yoga, tai chi, and qigong ($4 billion), homeopathic medicines ($2.9 billion) and relaxation techniques ($0.2 billion)."
Briggs further commented that chronic pain, back pain in specific, is the most common reason people use alternative medicine. “Americans," Briggs said, "turn to treatments like acupuncture, chiropractic care, and massage therapy to deal with these painful conditions,” adding that groups like the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society are on record as endorsing these therapies as useful options for the treatment of chronic back pain.

>> Click here for more information about CAM training

>> Click here to read the complete WebMD article on CAM

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