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Study Finds Majority of Women Use Alternative or Complimentary Medicine

A recent study suggests that the majority of mature Hispanic and non-Hispanic white women in the United States use some type of complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM).


Participants in the study included 171 women with an average age of 62 who took part in the New Jersey site of the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Participants completed both a general CAM questionnaire and a culturally sensitive CAM questionnaire designed to capture herbal products commonly used in Hispanic/Latina communities. Prevalence of and attitudes toward CAM use were compared by race/ethnicity and demographic characteristics.


The researchers found that 88.8% of the Hispanic women and 81.3% of the non-Hispanic white women used some type of alternative medicine. Prayer and herbal teas were the most common method used, followed by women’s vitamins, flaxseed, glucosamine, and soy supplements. Hispanic women used 6.6 different herbal treatments on average, compared to 4.0 for non-Hispanic white women.


Only 16% of Hispanic women were likely to classify herbal treatments as drugs, compared with 37.5% of non-Hispanic white women. In addition, only 14.4% of Hispanic women were likely to report sharing the use of herbal remedies with their doctors, compared with 34% of non-Hispanic white women.


Researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine led the study. It was published in the October 2017 issue of the Journal of Alternative Complimentary Medicine.


The authors of this study pointed out that alternative and complimentary medicines could interact negatively with prescription medications. This means that it is important for doctors to ask people what they are taking. It’s also important to report any alternative or herbal medications to the doctor.

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