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Archive for the ‘National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’ Category

Chronic Pain and Complementary Health Practices

August 1, 2012 Comments off

Chronic Pain and Complementary Health Practices
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Millions of Americans suffer from pain that is chronic, severe, and not easily managed. Pain from arthritis, back problems, other musculoskeletal conditions, and headache costs U.S. businesses more than $61 billion a year in lost worker productivity.

Pain is the most common health problem for which adults use complementary health practices. Many people with conditions causing chronic pain turn to these practices to supplement other conventional medical treatment, or when their pain is resistant or in an effort to advert side effects of medications. Despite the widespread use of complementary health practices for chronic pain, scientific evidence on efficacy and mechanisms—whether the therapies help the conditions for which they are used and, if so, how—is, for the most part, limited. However, the evidence base is growing, especially for several complementary health practices most commonly used by people to lessen pain.

This issue highlights the research status for several therapies used for common kinds of pain, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, headache, low-back pain, and neck pain.

Spinal Manipulation for Low-Back Pain

July 18, 2012 Comments off

Spinal Manipulation for Low-Back Pain
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

Low-back pain (often referred to as “lower back pain”) is a common condition that usually improves with self-care (practices that people can do by themselves, such as remaining active, applying heat, and taking pain-relieving medications). However, it is occasionally difficult to treat. Some health care professionals are trained to use a technique called spinal manipulation to relieve low-back pain and improve physical function (the ability to walk and move). This fact sheet provides basic information about low-back pain, summarizes research on spinal manipulation for low-back pain, and suggests sources for additional information.

Red Yeast Rice: An Introduction

July 14, 2012 Comments off

Red Yeast Rice: An Introduction
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Red yeast rice is a traditional Chinese culinary and medicinal product. In the United States, dietary supplements containing red yeast rice have been marketed to help lower blood levels of cholesterol and related lipids. Red yeast rice products may not be safe; some may have the same side effects as certain cholesterol-lowering drugs, and some may contain a potentially harmful contaminant. This fact sheet provides basic information about red yeast rice, summarizes scientific research on effectiveness and safety, discusses the legal status of red yeast rice, and suggests sources for additional information.

Backgrounder — Tai Chi: An Introduction

June 4, 2012 Comments off

Tai Chi: An Introduction
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

Tai chi, which originated in China as a martial art, is a mind-body practice in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Tai chi is sometimes referred to as “moving meditation”—practitioners move their bodies slowly, gently, and with awareness, while breathing deeply. This Backgrounder provides a general overview of tai chi and suggests sources for additional information.

The Flu, the Common Cold, and Complementary Health Practices

March 16, 2012 Comments off

The Flu, the Common Cold, and Complementary Health Practices
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Each year, approximately 5 to 20 percent of Americans come down with the flu. Although most recover without incident, flu-related complications result in more than 200,000 hospitalizations and between 3,000 and 49,000 deaths each year. Colds generally do not cause serious complications, but they are among the leading reasons for visiting a doctor and for missing school or work.

To prevent or treat these illnesses, some people turn to complementary health practices such as herbs or vitamins and minerals. This issue provides information on “what the science says” about some of these practices for the flu and for the common cold, including zinc, vitamin C, echinacea, and probiotics.

Herbs at a Glance: Cinnamon

February 1, 2012 Comments off

Herbs at a Glance: Cinnamon
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

This fact sheet provides basic information about cinnamon — common names, what the science says, potential side effects and cautions, and resources for more information.

Headaches and Complementary Health Practices

December 5, 2011 Comments off

Headaches and Complementary Health Practices
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Headaches are one of the most common forms of pain. More than 45 million Americans have headaches severe enough to require the help of a health care professional. Headaches occur when pain-sensitive nerve endings around the scalp, in the blood vessels that surround the skull, in the lining around the brain, and in other areas around the head send impulses to the part of the brain that interprets pain signals from the rest of the body. Some headaches are related to tender spots in head, neck, and shoulder muscles.

Researchers are studying treatments for different types of headaches, including a number of complementary health practices. This issue provides information on “what the science says” about the effectiveness and safety of selected complementary health practices for headaches, including relaxation training, biofeedback, acupuncture, tai chi, cognitive-behavioral therapy, massage, spinal manipulation, and dietary supplements.

NCCAM Clinical Digest: Irritable Bowel Syndrome and CAM

May 19, 2011 Comments off

NCCAM Clinical Digest: Irritable Bowel Syndrome and CAM
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder that interferes with the normal functions of the colon. IBS is characterized by symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. IBS is challenging to study because its symptoms vary and may disappear for long periods, and because people with IBS tend to respond well to placebos.

This issue summarizes research on some of the most popular complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies people try to treat symptoms of IBS. Overall, although there is some emerging evidence suggesting that some CAM therapies may be helpful for IBS, there have been few large well-designed studies, and most of the studies have had methodological flaws. Systematic reviews generally conclude that more well-designed studies are needed to firmly establish whether CAM therapies are helpful treatments for IBS.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine: What People Aged 50 and Older Discuss With Their Health Care Providers

April 21, 2011 Comments off

Complementary and Alternative Medicine: What People Aged 50 and Older Discuss With Their Health Care Providers
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Do Americans aged 50 and older discuss the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) with their health care providers? To help answer this question, AARP and NCCAM partnered on a telephone survey of over 1,000 people aged 50 and older. Just over half of those surveyed reported using complementary and alternative medicine and over a third take some type of herbal product or dietary supplement. Yet only a third of all respondents and a little over half of CAM users said they have ever discussed CAM with their health care providers. These findings highlight the need for providers to ask about CAM use at every patient visit and the need for people aged 50 and older to know that CAM use is something that is important to discuss with their conventional medical providers.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Fact Sheet — Tea Tree Oil

March 17, 2011 Comments off

Fact Sheet — Tea Tree Oil
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

This fact sheet provides basic information about tea tree oil—common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information. Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of the tea tree, and has been used medicinally for centuries by the aboriginal people of Australia.

NCCAM Clinical Digest: Hepatitis C and CAM — March 2011

March 8, 2011 Comments off

NCCAM Clinical Digest: Hepatitis C and CAM — March 2011
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NIH)

Hepatitis C, a liver disease caused by a virus, is usually chronic (long-lasting), with symptoms ranging from mild (or even none) to severe. Conventional medical treatments are available for hepatitis C; however, some people also try complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies, especially herbal supplements. This issue summarizes the scientific research on the effectiveness and safety of selected supplements.

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