Today, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of the NIHlaunched a new education campaign to provide information to consumers about alternative therapies and to encourage them to talk to their doctors openly about their use of these therapies.
Complementary and alternative therapies or medicine (CAM)—which includes vitamins, deep breathing exercises, meditation, massage therapy, and yoga—are commonplace in Europe and have increased in popularity in the States over the past few years. In fact, nearly 40 percent of adult Americans use some form of CAM. Twelve percent (about 1 out of every 9) children are treated with CAM. Usage is higher among women and adults with higher levels of education and higher incomes. That may be because the therapies are usually not covered by insurance and can be expensive.
NCCAM will provide a new series of monthly health tips, called Time to Talk Tips, to provide consumers with understandable information on complementary health practices.
The tips will include information on specific health topics and mind/body approaches to manage a variety of conditions and how dietary supplements may interact with medications (prescription or over-the-counter) or other dietary supplements.
“An increasing number of consumers and patients use the Internet to answer health questions, yet the information they find can be overwhelming and is not always relevant or credible,” said Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., director of NCCAM. “This series will give people evidence-based facts to help them make more informed health care decisions. Health care providers can also provide these tips to their patients who are interested in learning more about complementary health practices.”
These topics will also appear monthly on Twitter, allowing the public to ask questions and receive answers in real time.
NCCAM will certainly provide credible information. However, the information will not go beyond what has been proven by standard scientific methods. NCCAM exists to ensure that alternative therapies are tested by the same rigorous standards as traditional therapies. However, that takes time and traditional medical communities are not vested in successful implementation of these therapies.
Consequently, information NCCAM can provide may be more limited than is available. You are encouraged to compare and supplement the information from authorities who have worked with alternative therapies, such as Dr. Andrew Weil and reputable clearinghouses.
The good news is that the use of CAM is more accepted and information should be easier to find. If your doctor is not open to your interest in these proven therapies, it may be time to find another doctor. Just a thought. Take care of yourself.