The new survey on complementary and alternative medicine use by Americans is being widely discussed.

From Americans Turn to Complementary, Alternative Medicine for Pain Relief:

Complementary and alternative medical practices – which include health products and therapies that aren’t generally considered part of conventional medicine – are frequently a part of Americans’ health care regimens. That’s the finding of a new survey released this month by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), which is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Thirty-eight percent of American adults are using some form of complementary and alternative medicine, known as CAM, to help with their health.
NCCAM Director Dr. Josephine Briggs says the new survey provides the most current, comprehensive and reliable source of information on Americans’ use of unconventional remedies such as medicinal herbs, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, massage and chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation.
Most of these patients, Briggs says, hope to alleviate pain.
“The most common reason why people turn to complementary and alternative medicine in our survey results is chronic back pain – far and away, the leading reason to use complementary and alternative medicine,” she says. “Neck pain, joint pain, headache: All these other conditions are also given as common reasons. But chronic back pain is the leading reason, a very common and difficult condition to treat.”
As the federal government’s lead agency for scientific research into CAM therapies, the center funds hundreds of projects and trials, supports training for researchers and encourages integration of proven CAM therapies into conventional practice.

Complementary medicine and holistic health care is discussed by Good News, Bad News on Alzheimer’s Prevention:

Many Americans believe that use of the herb Ginkgo biloba can help stave off development of Alzheimer’s disease. However, results from a large clinical trial are sure to disappoint ginkgo proponents.
The trial, headed by Steven DeKosky, M.D., of the University of Virginia and a leading Alzheimer’s scientist, was conducted at five academic medical centers throughout the United States. It included more than 3,000 community volunteers aged 75 or older with either normal cognition or mild cognitive impairment. It used a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind design.
Half the subjects took 120 mg of ginkgo twice a day, and half took a placebo twice a day. Subjects were evaluated every six months for dementia over the following six years. At the end of the six years, 523 subjects had developed dementia–277 in the ginkgo group and 246 in the placebo group.
Moreover, when the researchers looked to see whether ginkgo might have had an effect on just the incidence of Alzheimer’s, not on the incidence of various types of dementia, they still failed to find a preventive effect for gingko, they concluded.
The study was published in the November 19, 2008, Journal of the American Medical Association.
One strength of the study was that the Gingko biloba extract tested was a standardized formulation with specific amounts of active ingredients–in fact, the world’s most clinically tested gingko extract. One weakness of the study was that only subjects 75 years of age or older were used. So it is still possible that ginkgo might be able to prevent Alzheimer’s if people start taking it earlier in their lives, DeKosky and his group speculated.
Even if that is not the case, ginkgo may well counter symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Hyla Cass, M.D., a psychiatrist in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and an authority on alternative and complementary medicine, told Psychiatric News. “There are compelling data showing [its] benefits … in treating symptoms of dementia….”
For instance, in one randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial, ginkgo was found to be as effective as donepezil in treating Alzheimer’s. Donepezil is one of the drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for Alzheimer’s.
Further, 11 clinical trials have suggested that ginkgo can improve the attention, memory, and cognitive speed of healthy, cognitively intact subjects, Cass pointed out. So even if ginkgo cannot halt the development or progression of Alzheimer’s, it may still enhance mental processes in people without the disease, she said.
Meanwhile, somewhat more encouraging news on the Alzheimer’s prevention front was published by Norwegian researchers in the November 2008 International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry–that education may be able to offset people’s genetic liability for Alzheimer’s. The major investigator was Sigrid Sando, M.D., Ph.D., a consultant neurologist at St. Olav’s Hospital in Trondheim.

A radio show features holistic mental health care:

Dr. Mehmet Oz says that the new book Dr. Patricia Gerbarg co-authored, How to Use Herbs, Nutrients and Yoga in Mental Health Care, is a “go-to source for information on integrative mental health.”
New York, NY (1888PressRelease) January 02, 2009 – Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD, internationally renowned holistic mental health expert and pioneer of CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) is the guest of host Carole Marks on the A Touch of Grey Radio Show, Monday, January 5, 2009, to discuss the highly-praised new book she co-authored with Drs. Richard Brown and Dr. Philip Muskin, HOW TO USE HERBS, NUTRIENTS, AND YOGA IN MENTAL HEALTH CARE.
Dr. Gerbarg, a clinically experienced psychiatrist and medical school professor at New York Medical College, will discuss the precariousness of every day life in the current economy and some specific recommendations for taking care of oneself mentally and emotionally when under so much stress.
In addition to her clinical practice of psychiatry, Dr. Gerbarg provides consultation and facilitates the development of research projects on the health benefits of mind-body practices. Her research has focused on victims of trauma and mass disasters such as the 9/11 community, the southeast Asian tsunami, and military personnel.
Dr. Gerbarg has taught and lectured on a range of topics in psychiatry and psychoanalysis. Over the past ten years, she has been increasingly involved in alternative and complementary psychiatric research and has co-authored numerous articles and book chapters with Dr. Brown as well as the book The Rhodiola Revolution which presents a scientific basis for the health benefits of an ancient medicinal herb for reducing stress and maintaining energy. Dr. Gerbarg has been interviewed extensively by radio stations, magazines, and newspapers. She and Dr. Brown maintain a web site providing health information and resources at Have A Health
Carole Marks runs A Touch of Grey: The Talk Show for Grown-Ups from Mystic, Connecticut. She hosts authors, celebrities, politicians, professors and others on her show dedicated to the over 50 population, and she is passionately interested in all aspects of health. “When it comes to 21st century medicine, you have to be your own patient advocate,” says Carole. Her show is aired on WABC 77 in New York City, on KRLA 870 in Los Angeles, and on 50 other stations across the U.S.

Legal issues continue to surface with client calls to our law offices ranging from cases involving medical board discipline, to malpractice in complementary and alternative medicine delivery, to issues facing unlicensed practitioners such as hypnotherapists, energy healers, homeopaths, naturopaths, and practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine. As attorneys we continue to be asked to draft informed consent disclosures, waiver forms, and other documents to help protect against liability risks.