More People Rely On Alternative Medicine

As consumers look to save money in a tough economy, many turn to alternative health care options. CBS 4 reports: "Health care costs are soaring. Thousands of people are without jobs and without the benefits afforded them. Now, those people are turning to preventative or alternative measures. ... The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) shows 38 percent of adults and 12 percent of kids are now using alternative therapies to treat pain. In fact, Americans are now reportedly spending $34 billion a year on alternative therapies" (Demos, 10/26).

The Washington Post examines how people are relying on alternative medicine for flu prevention: "Mounting concern about swine flu and shortages of the vaccine recently approved to battle it are refocusing attention on homeopathic remedies, which are increasingly being used in this country and abroad as an alternative to prevent or treat various forms of flu: swine, bird and seasonal. .... Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration has mounted an aggressive campaign against products making unproven or unapproved claims to fight swine flu." Despite a lack of evidence around homeopathic medicines, an increasing number of Americans are "using it to battle a panoply of ailments, including arthritis, herpes and flu."

"A federally funded survey in 2007 found that in the previous year nearly 5 million Americans used homeopathic remedies, made from substances including duck liver, heavy metals such as arsenic, herbs and poison ivy, and diluted in water until they are virtually undetectable. ... Unlike vaccines or prescription or over-the-counter drugs, homeopathic medicines, which account for annual U.S. sales of more than $200 million, do not need to demonstrate safety or effectiveness, although they must be labeled with a list of ingredients and the conditions for which they are being used" (Boodman, 10/27).

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