38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments

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. "The dietary supplement increase reflects consumer trends toward improving and increasing their sense of wellness and their own self-empowerment with respect to their health."

The increasing use of CAM among children is also positive, Blumenthal added. "Look at children's diets. We are seeing more childhood obesity, we are seeing people who want to give statins to children because of higher cholesterol -- I think that's deplorable," he said.

Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Yale University School of Medicine Prevention Research Center, said people turn to CAM to enhance vitality, and to relieve pain, discomfort or fatigue.

"The continued popularity of CAM highlights the importance of physicians being knowledgeable, because it is here that patients most need expert guidance," he said. "Doctors and patients alike should approach the many offerings of CAM with open-minded skepticism, to take advantage of what is likely to help, and be on guard against what may cause harm."

More information

To learn more about CAM, visit the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

SOURCES: Richard L. Nahin, Ph.D., MPH, acting director, division of extramural research, U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director, American Botanical Council, Austin, Texas; David L. Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Prevention Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., and director, Integrative Medicine Center, Griffin Hospital, Derby, Conn.; Dec. 10, 2008, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults and Children: United States, 2007

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