One-third of these patients use CAM.

Are they dissatisfied with mainstream treatments?

First, the details.

  • 1012 patients with functional bowel disorder completed questionnaires at the beginning of the study and 6 months later.
  • Questionnaires focused on the use and cost of CAM, symptom severity, quality of life, psychological distress, and perceived treatment effectiveness.

And, the results.

  • CAM was used by 35% of patients.
  • The yearly cost was about $200, ranging from $40 to $2200.

CAM use

  • Herbals and teas
    • Ginger root tea 15%
    • Evening primrose oil 4%
    • Fennel seed tea 4%
    • Senna tea 2%
  • Massage therapy 13%
  • Yoga 10%
  • Homeopathic medicines 8%
  • Psychotherapy 8%
  • Aromatherapy 7%
  • Acupuncture 3%
  • Biofeedback 1%
  • Hypnosis 1%
  • Any CAM 38%

Other findings

  • Satisfaction with physician care and perceived effectiveness of Rx meds were not associated with CAM use.
  • Physician referral to a CAM provider was uncommon, but most patients receiving this recommendation followed their physician’s advice.
    • 6% to a dietician
    • 7% to a psychologist/psychiatrist
    • 4% to a naturopath
  • Rx meds were rated somewhat, very, or extremely effective for the following treatments.
    • Rx 69%
    • OTC meds 61%
    • Herbals 56%

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “CAM use is common in patients with functional bowel disorder, but does not appear to be driven by perceived ineffectiveness of conventional medicine.”

They would like to see proven therapies (eg, hypnotherapy and psychotherapy) covered by insurance since cost limits access for some patients, and “fill current knowledge gaps about treatment effectiveness (such as in herbal therapies).”

10/5/08 16:42 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.