Frequently Asked Questions

Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the U.S. 

Complementary Medicine is changing the face of health care in the United States because of efficacy, low incidence of harmful side effects, and patient demand. Some recent changes are outlined below:

In 2002, the White House Commission on CAM issued a report advocating integrating CAM modalities into the healthcare system in the United States.

Over 29 major health insurance companies and HMOs currently cover CAM therapies.

56% of Americans – and 50% of physicians – surveyed believe that health plans should cover alternative therapies.

60% of physicians have referred patients to CAM practitioners.

alternative_medicineWhy Use Complementary and Alternative Medicine? 

In a recent (2001) article in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the demand for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) was reviewed. The authors of this review concluded that “…CAM therapies will affect all facets of health care delivery over the next 25 years,” demonstrating how completely CAM therapies have been integrated into the mainstream of medicine in the United States. CAM therapies are truly complementary to Western allopathic medicine, and are highly effective for many health issues.

The CAM modalities of Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Hydrotherapy, Diet and Nutrition Therapy, and Massage Therapy can each benefit a variety of ailments, including:

  • Acute and Chronic Pain
  • Migraine headache
  • Whiplash
  • Postural strain
  • Temperomandibular Disorder (TMJ)
  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia
  • Shingles
  • Shoulder pain
  • Rotator cuff strain
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Tennis elbow
  • Carpel tunnel syndrome
  • Low back pain
  • Sciatica
  • Knee pain
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Sprains and strains of all kinds
  • Arthritis pain
  • Post-surgical pain

Women’s Health Care

Menstrual issues such as cramps, PMS, headache, irregular cycle, bloating, breast tenderness, irritability, and other mood changes;

Fertility enhancement, including working with your fertility physician to enhance effectiveness of IVF and other fertility procedures;

Pregnancy and Labor support, including relief from nausea (morning sickness), pregnancy discomfort; and pain relief during labor and after delivery;

Menopausal symptoms including hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, vaginal dryness and decreased libido;

Annual Well-Woman Exams, including PAP smears, breast exams, blood work and other screening procedures as needed.

Sleep and Mood Disorders

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and nervous tension
  • Mild to moderate depression

Autoimmune Diseases

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Lupus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Respiratory Problems

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Sinusitis (acute and chronic)
  • Cough
  • Common cold and flu

Digestive Disorders

  • Indigestion
  • Acid reflux
  • Ulcers
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Gas and Bloating

Uro-genital Disorders

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Urinary urgency and frequency
  • Incontinence
  • Interstitial Cystitis (IC)
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Sexual dysfunction and pain

Side Effects of Chemotherapy or Other Medical Treatments

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased immunity
  • Pain

Conclusions of the 1997 National Institutes of Health Consensus: Statement Regarding the Efficacy of Acupuncture

Acupuncture as a therapeutic intervention is widely practiced in the United States. There have been many studies of its potential usefulness. However, many of these studies provide equivocal results because of design, sample size, and other factors. The issue is further complicated by inherent difficulties in the use of appropriate controls, such as placebo and sham acupuncture groups.

However, promising results have emerged: for example, efficacy of acupuncture in adult post-operative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative dental pain has been demonstrated. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma for which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program.

Findings from basic research have begun to elucidate the mechanisms of action of acupuncture, including the release of opioids and other peptides in the central nervous system and the periphery and changes in neuroendocrine function. Although much needs to be accomplished, the emergence of plausible mechanisms for the therapeutic effects of acupuncture is encouraging.

There is sufficient evidence of acupuncture’s value to expand its use into conventional medicine and to encourage further studies of its physiology and clinical value.