Approximately 38 percent of U.S. adults age 18 and older and nearly 12 percent of U.S. children age 17 and younger use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), according to a recently-released nationwide government survey. The survey, conducted as part of the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and developed by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), marked the first time questions were included regarding children’s use of CAM.

The survey contained questions on 36 types of CAM therapies commonly used in the U.S., including 10 types of provider-based therapies, such as acupuncture and chiropractic, and 26 other therapies that do not require a provider, such as herbal supplements and meditation.

Comparison of the 2007 survey with data from 2002 shows that overall use of CAM among adults remained relatively steady—38 percent in 2007, compared to 36 percent in 2002. However, the use of some specific CAM therapies, including massage therapy, meditation, deep breathing and yoga, all showed noteworthy increases.

According to the survey, adults used CAM most often to treat pain, including back pain, neck pain, joint pain or stiffness, arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions. In addition, CAM use in adults was greater in women than men, 42.8 percent compared to 33.5 percent.

The survey also indicated children are five times more likely to use CAM if a parent or other relative uses CAM. Among children who used CAM in the past 12 months, CAM therapies were sought most often for back or neck pain, head or chest colds, anxiety or stress, other musculoskeletal problems and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD).

Echinacea, a medicinal plant that can be used to treat or prevent colds, was the most common of the natural products used by children, the survey revealed.

To view the full report, visit http://nccam.nih.gov/news/2008/nhsr12.pdf.

The most commonly used CAM therapies among U.S. adults were:
• Nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products (17.7 percent)
• Deep breathing exercises (12.7 percent)
• Meditation (9.4 percent)
• Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation (8.6 percent)
• Massage (8.3 percent)
• Yoga (6.1 percent)

The most commonly used CAM therapies among children were:
• Nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products (3.9 percent)
• Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation (2.8 percent)
• Deep breathing exercises (2.2 percent)
• Yoga (2.1 percent).

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