Friday, July 31, 2009

Why Do We Spend $34 Billion in Alternative Medicine?

Chances are that one out of every three people you see in the grocery store, on the street or at work have tried alternative medicine, and they're spending quite a bit for it.

he National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced Thursday that Americans spent $34 billion on complementary and alternative medicine in 2007. The study queried more than 70,000 people across the country about 36 various forms of alternative treatments.

But researchers say they still don't know exactly why people are turning to these therapies.

"Since this was a point of time survey, we weren't necessarily asking people about why or how they made their decision," said Richard Nahin, an author of the study released by the NIH and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).

The $34 billion spent on complementary and alternative medicine pales in comparison to the $2.2 trillion spent on health care annually, but alternative therapies accounted for up to 10 percent of out-of-pocket health costs.

Yet, at the same time as Americans are embracing alternative medicine, the American Medical Association's (AMA) policy on the matter far from endorses the treatments.

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