Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston, Massachusetts, report patterns and reasons for its use.

It’s not what you think.

First, the details.

  • CAM use among 23,393 adults with and without self-reported migraines/severe headaches was recorded in a national survey.

And, the results.

  • Adults with migraines/severe headaches used CAM significantly more frequently than those without (45% vs 34%).
  • Mind-body therapies (eg, deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga) were used most commonly.
  • Most adults with migraines/severe headaches didn’t discuss CAM use with their healthcare provider.
    • Nonetheless, those with migraines/severe headaches used CAM more often than those without because of their healthcare provider’s recommendation and because conventional treatments were perceived as ineffective or too costly.
  • There was an association between CAM use among adults with migraines/severe headaches and anxiety, joint or low back pain, alcohol use, higher education, and living in the western USA.
  • Only 5% of adults with migraines/severe headaches reported using CAM to specifically treat their migraines/severe headaches.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “CAM is used more often among adults with migraines/severe headaches than those without. However, few report using CAM to specifically treat migraines/severe headaches.”

So, migraineurs are more likely to use CAM, but not because it might help their migraine headaches. Very few migraineurs (5%) use CAM specifically to treat migraine headache.

8/31/11 20:48 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.