Nahin offered some advice for those looking at CAM for their health needs.
Do your homework first, he said. "It's a little bit 'buyer beware' in buying products and getting information," he added. "Be sure you get reliable information."
Most techniques, such as acupuncture, massage and yoga, are safe, he said. "But herbal supplements may interfere with conventional medications. So let your conventional doctor know, so they can be monitoring you for any unexpected events," he added.
Other findings from the survey showed that more women than men use CAM (42.8 percent versus 33.5 percent), as do older and more educated and wealthier adults, and those living in the west.
Among children, nearly one in nine uses CAM. And, children are five times more likely to use these therapies if a parent or relative uses them.
The most commonly used products by children are echinacea, fish oil/omega 3/DHA, combination herb pill, flaxseed oil or pills, and prebiotics or probiotics (foods containing supplements). A small number of children use chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, deep breathing exercises and yoga.
Therapies were most often used by children to treat back or neck pain, head or chest colds, anxiety or stress, musculoskeletal problems, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, according to the survey.
And CAM use to treat head or chest colds dropped from 9.5 percent in 2002 to 2 percent in 2007, according to the survey.
Mark Blumenthal is founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council, an independent, nonprofit research group that says it's dedicated to helping people live healthier lives through the responsible use of herbs and medicinal plants. He said he views the use of CAM is a positive trend.
"People are using these products to enhance wellness," Blumenthal said. "
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