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More hospitals offering complementary medicine

As we've previously written about on Scope the popularity of complementary and alternative medicine is growing among U.S. adults. Now a recent survey shows patients' demand for such therapies are driving hospitals to begin providing complementary medicine treatments such as acupuncture.

The survey was completed by the American Hospital Association and the Samueli Institute, a nonprofit organization focusing on these treatments. Results show 42 percent now offer at least one type of complementary medicine treatment but that the majority of institutions are not offering herbal or nutritional supplements. Shots reports:

There's a big difference between guided imagery and ginkgo supplements, say experts. While patients are unlikely to be harmed by the mostly noninvasive therapies hospitals have adopted so far, herbs and supplements may pose a greater threat.

An extract made from the seeds and leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree, for example, is taken by some people to improve memory and fight dementia, despite mostly inconclusive study results.

The herb does, however, increase the risk of bleeding, and patients should discontinue its use 36 hours prior to surgery. "Many herbal remedies create herb/drug interactions," says Barrie Cassileth, chief of the integrative medicine service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, which maintains a website with information on 250 herbs and supplements. "Many of them are not standardized, and frequently they are dirty, contaminated and unproven," she says.

Previously:  Caution advised for cancer patients who take herbal supplements, Meditate and call me in the morning: Study looks at doctors' referrals for mind-body therapies, Roughly 9 percent of U.S. moms give infants herbal supplements, Older adults increasingly turning to complementary medicine and Americans' use of complementary medicine on the rise
Photo by Marnie Joyce

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