It’s not so “out there”
In addition to the 38 percent of all adults in the United States who have tried natural medicine, nearly 12 percent of children have used complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies. Veterinarians use it on pets, too. “It’s not just the fringe anymore,” says Donald B. Levy, MD, medical director of the Osher Clinical Center for Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
“It’s more widespread.” In fact, CAM is considered standard treatment in many European countries (including Germany, which regulates herbs, and France, where hospitals widely use acupuncture), so sometimes alternative treatments new to the States have already been researched and used for years abroad.
It’s a spa thing
Our strong desire to “heal” ourselves with natural medicine has made alternative therapies hot items at spas and resorts. Some treatments may sound like a wacky mix of the scientific and the spiritualCrystal Bowl Sound Healing (at Rancho La Puerta Fitness Resort and Spa in Baja California) claims to activate alpha waves in the brain; Spirit Flight treatment (at Miraval in Tucson, Arizona) is touted as a blend of energy medicine, full-body massage, acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, and spinal alignment, along with indigenous ceremonial rituals.
But treatments like these are very popular, and an arm of the National Institutes of Health called the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is researching their validity. In fact, you may be able to take part in a clinical trial for an alt med therapy being studied at a university near you. For information, visit the NCCAM’s Web site.