Federal researchers have reported that many Americans are now turning to prayer or unconventional remedies, including herbal tonics, acupuncture, massage, and yoga to cure their ills. Some of these alternative therapies may play a role in weight loss. A new government survey conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Heath Statistics of more than 31,000 US adults nationwide found that 36 percent are using some kind of "complementary and alternative" therapy. That number rises to 62 percent when prayer is included as a therapy. This survey confirms earlier, much smaller studies, which found that the popularity of alternative therapies was rising rapidly. The findings make it clear that alternative medicine has established itself as an important part of the US health care system.
About one-fifth of Americans use "natural" supplements such as herbs and enzymes. The most popular of these is echinacea which was being used by 40 percent of the people who were surveyed, followed by ginseng (24 percent), ginkgo biloba (21 percent) and garlic (19 percent). Twelve percent use deep-breathing exercises, 8 percent meditate, 5 percent do yoga, 5 percent get massages, and 4 percent try diets.
These findings emphasize the need to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of such therapies. This is especially important given the fact that some Americans are continuing to try products, such as kava kava, which is used to treat anxiety and depression but has also been liked to possible liver problems. As with many over the counter medications, many people make the assumption that just because something is natural it is also safe but these products may still require further investigation before that assumption is confirmed.