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Americans Spend Billions on Alternative Medicine
Date:7/30/2009

toward self-care costs. Most of the money ($14.8 billion) went to buy non-vitamin, non-mineral natural products such as fish oil, glucosamine and echinacea, according to the report. That's equivalent to about one-third of total out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs, the researchers noted.

In addition, $11.9 billion went to some 354.2 million visits to CAM practitioners such as acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists and homeopaths, which is about one-quarter of total out-of-pocket spending on physician visits.

Of the 20 conditions for which people use CAM, nine are associated with chronic pain, Nahin said.

"These data clearly show us that Americans use CAM to treat these conditions, often which are very hard to treat with regular medical approaches," he said.

The report used data from U.S. 2007 National Health Interview Survey.

The report was prepared by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.

Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine and director of the Integrative Medicine Center at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn., said "this report lends support to the growing field of integrative medicine, which strives to blend conventional and complementary practices thoughtfully and in light of the available evidence."

"The data reported here indicate that CAM remains very popular and its use constitutes a major portion of total health-care utilization in the U.S.," Katz said. "This is important, as it suggests that many patients have needs or preferences not met by the prevailing practices of conventional medicine alone."

The data also suggest that patients are increasingly informed about the evidence base for alternative medicine practices, and are shifting toward those that are better-substantiated and that's a positive trend, Katz said.

"The persistent popul
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