WebMD Medical News
Laura J. Martin, MD
July 22, 2011 -- Most Americans believe that prescription medications are the most effective treatments for many common illnesses, but a Consumer Reports survey of more than 45,000 people finds that three-fourths of us are turning to alternative therapies like yoga and acupuncture.
The new report says 38 million adults make more than 300 million visits per year to acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and other practitioners of alternative and complementary techniques.
"Despite the hoopla over alternative therapies, when we asked respondents how well the therapies they used worked for 12 common health problems, results showed that they were usually deemed far less helpful than prescription medicine for most of the conditions," Consumer Reports Health says in its September issue.
Also, over-the-counter medications in many cases are more popular among consumers than widely used dietary supplements, according to the survey.
Chiropractic, deep-tissue massage, and mind-body practices like yoga dominated the list of alternative treatments that respondents said were helpful for back pain, neck pain, and the aches of osteoarthritis.
And though meditation is widely touted as an effective way to relieve anxiety, insomnia, and depression, the survey says prescription antidepressants are used by more people.
Among key findings of the survey:
Respondents were online subscribers of Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports recommends that people who decide to try alternative treatments talk to their doctor first to set realistic expectations for improvement.
SOURCES:News release, Consumer Reports Health.Consumer Reports, September 2011.
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