Posted on May 19, 2017

Image source: Naples Herald

One Third of Adults Use Complementary and Alternative Medicine

It seems to have taken the U.S. longer to adopt complementary and alternative medicine than many other countries. There are a variety of reasons for this, but the main ones are based on the fact that the U.S. relies completely on mainstream medicine, while many other cultures have been using natural and alternative modalities for centuries. U.S. mainstream medicine professionals also rely on in-depth scientific studies for recommendation and use, and they have deliberately ignored the application of these studies when it comes to alternative therapies. However, this has been quite apparent to Americans, as they no longer trust some of the medical requirements for prescription drugs and one third of adults are now using some form of complementary and alternative medicine in their daily routines.

There are many reports that indicate that the U.S. is considered to be the most overmedicated country in the world. Given the side effects of various prescription medications, the population has spent a number of years transitioning to alternative therapies for their health. The National Health Statistics Report by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) indicates the results of a survey that covered over 89,000 U.S. adults and over 17,000 children between the ages of 4-17 years. Seeking alternatives to standard meds for such conditions as pain management, anxiety control and physical well-being, Americans seem to prefer fish oil, probiotics, deep breathing, yoga, and melatonin as some of the most popular. A majority of these individuals make use of the alternative therapies in conjunction with conventional care, and there is only around 5% that rely solely on complementary and alternative therapies.

While the United States has few studies on some of the alternatives, many other countries have been involved in research, with the most notable being the effect of fish oil containing omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to decrease heart arrhythmia and act as anti-inflammatories.

There has been a jump in the use of both prebiotics and probiotics as people begin to understand the benefits of good and bad gut bacteria. There increase between 2007 and 2012 in taking prebiotics and probiotics for both adults and children has been four times higher.

Some of the factors that are at play in the increase of alternative therapies involve the baby boomers who are now in a position to have disorders and disease states that are associated with aging. As a generation that was involved in some of the alternative practices of the 60’s and 70’s, they are expanding their awareness and education levels to embrace non-standard modalities. Another important reason for adoption of complementary therapies has been the internet, which freely shares philosophies as well as results from the scientific studies of other countries.

Of course education with correct information is important and as the American population expands their understanding on diet, the body and chemicals/additives and even medications that can have long term effects, they are making choices to move away from mainstream medicine as it has been known in the past. This philosophy is also being seen in many of the primary care physician offices as they are now incorporating recommendations of vitamins and supplements as well as chiropractors and yoga for pain and anxiety management.