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      Bartecchi expresses his concerns regarding the efficacy and costs of alternative therapies and implies that primary care physicians do not need to be knowledgeable about alternative and complementary therapies.
      I believe that primary care physicians should have sufficient training to be knowledgeable about alternative therapies because nearly 40% of their patients use these therapies in addition to conventional therapy.
      • Barnes P.M.
      • Bloom B.
      • Nahin R.L.
      Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007 National Health Statistics Reports; no. 12.
      • Barnes P.
      • Powell-Griner E.
      • McFann K.
      • Nahin R.
      CDC Advance Data Report #343. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults: United States, 2002.
      The most common reason that patients seek alternative therapies is for treatment of chronic non-life-threatening disorders such as low back pain and other musculoskeletal pains.
      • Barnes P.M.
      • Bloom B.
      • Nahin R.L.
      Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007 National Health Statistics Reports; no. 12.
      The most commonly used alternative therapies for chronic pain are chiropractic, meditation, massage, and acupuncture.
      • Barnes P.M.
      • Bloom B.
      • Nahin R.L.
      Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007 National Health Statistics Reports; no. 12.
      Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy
      Acupuncture
      National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference Statement 1997.
      and is used in many of our most respected cancer centers.
      Primary care physicians should also be knowledgeable about dietary supplements because the majority of their patients take vitamins, minerals, or other supplements which may interact with other prescribed medications.
      Council for Responsible Nutrition, 2009
      Wouldn't it be better for patients to receive guidance regarding dietary supplements from their physician rather than a health food store clerk?
      At the present time, most alternative therapies are paid out of pocket. When these treatments are shown to be effective and safe, I believe that they should be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and the other health insurers.

      References

        • Barnes P.M.
        • Bloom B.
        • Nahin R.L.
        Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007.
        National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD2008
        • Barnes P.
        • Powell-Griner E.
        • McFann K.
        • Nahin R.
        CDC Advance Data Report #343. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults: United States, 2002.
        May 27 2004
        • Acupuncture
        National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference Statement 1997.
        Nov 3–5. 1997; 15: 1-34
        • Council for Responsible Nutrition, 2009
        (Accessed April 3, 2010)

      Linked Article

      • Are We Missing Ways to Reduce Health Care Costs?
        The American Journal of MedicineVol. 123Issue 11
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          In his “Commentary” article in the March 2010 edition of The American Journal of Medicine [1], Dr Dalen does an excellent job of outlining how we can reduce U.S. health care costs. However, the author makes some statements that call into question his true personal commitment to the reduction of health care costs. He states, “We offer minimal training in nutrition, prescribed exercise, stress reduction techniques, and other effective therapies for certain conditions, for example, acupuncture for specific chronic pain syndromes.” He seems to be implying that acupuncture is a proven therapy for chronic pain syndromes and is more than just a placebo, as is suggested by numerous recent studies.
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      • We Can Reduce US Health Care Costs
        The American Journal of MedicineVol. 123Issue 3
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          The primary reason that the US needs health care reform is that we pay more for health care than any other country in the world; yet our health outcomes are below that of other western nations.1 Our health outcomes are suboptimal because millions of Americans have limited access to ongoing primary and preventive care because they can't afford our health insurance.
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