Nursing

Blog spotlight: Study shows Americans spend millions on alternative therapies

Nurse Leader Insider, August 10, 2009

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A recent national study conducted among 23,000 people by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health found Americans are spending $34 million a year on alternative therapies that are not covered by insurance, which is a 25% increase within the past decade. Alternative therapies can range from taking herbs to yoga classes, and are popular for both adults and children.

The study found that $22 million of the $34 million is spent on “self care,” where patients use an alternative therapy, such as taking fish oil supplements or homeopathic medications, without their health practitioner’s advice. As more and more Americans seek alternative therapies, it is important for nurses to be aware of how these drugs and methods may affect patients’ prescriptions or treatment.

For example, many cancer patients turn to alternative therapies for help with chemotherapy-related fatigue and other side effects. In a clinical trial presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, researchers found that:

  • Ginseng can relieve fatigue in cancer patients
  • Ginger fights chemotherapy-related nausea
  • Flax seeds appear to slow the growth of prostate tumors

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