Alternative therapies work without a prescription

Most chiropractors take a holistic approach to patient health, not the symptomatic attack of regular doctors, and that is also part of the appeal.

When my knee began hurting last year my family doctor sent me to an orthopedist, who said I was getting old and suggested drugs to ease the pain.

Then I visited a chiropractor who cleared things right up. No drugs, no waiting, and no co-pays. I just wrote a check.

Repeat that experience 354 million times per year and you have just part of what the NIH calls the Complementary and Alternative Medicine market, which it says was worth $33.9 billion in 2007.

That's still a small part of the $2.2 trillion total health care market, but it's growing over 6% per year. It's now over 11% of our total out-of-pocket expenses for health care.

The NIH says all this proves we need to look more closely at the unproven claims of alternative practitioners. My chiropractor, Stephanie O'Brien, who recently moved to the building above in Scottdale, GA GA says not to bother. "We don't want to be part of that."

That may be the best answer to the question posed by ABC, which is why we spend so much on therapies that aren't scientifically proven to work. Jumping through hoops is a hassle, and expensive. I know my back doesn't hurt now.

CAM spending covers a broad swath of procedures and prescriptives, everything from dietary supplements whose uselessness is proven to a good massage, which at least makes you feel good.

The NIH divided its number into several pieces.

Some $14.8 billion went to things like fish oil pills, glucosamine, and St. John's wort. That's one-third of what we spent out-of-pocket on prescription drugs. About $11.9 billion went to services, like my chiropractor, along with reflexologists, massage therapists and others.

Most chiropractors also take a holistic approach to patient health, not the symptomatic attack of regular doctors, and that is also part of the appeal.

While chatting with Dr. O'Brien, just to let her know I would put her in this story, I mentioned that my feet were getting hot at night. She suggested exercise after dinner, said I'm sitting around all day writing blog posts and so blood is settling in my feet.

I'll try that. Would my doctor make such a money-saving suggestion? Would yours?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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