More Americans Say Alternative Medicine Has A "Prayer"

May 28, 2004 ( - Without the power of prayer, the use of alternative medicines is not heralded as miraculous by most Americans.

A little more than a third (36%) of Americans said they use one of more of 27 alternative medicine practices ranging from acupuncture and chiropractic therapies to the use of herbs or botanical products, special diets, and megavitamin therapy, according to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention survey of 31,000 U.S. adults. Most widely used among the list of 27 therapies was the use of products such as herbs (19%), the practice deep breathing (12%) and meditation (8%).

Alternative approaches were most often used to treat back pain or problems, colds, neck pain or problems, joint pain or stiffness, and anxiety or depression, a news release issued by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine said.

However, when the CDC worked the use of prayer into the alternative medicine metrics, the number of Americans who said they utilized one or more of the unconventional therapies jumped to 62%. In fact, prayer was the most widely used alternative remedy with 43% of adults saying they pray for their own health and 24% praying for someone else .

When most Americans head out in search of alternative therapies, they do so alone, since only about 12% of adults sought care from a licensed Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) practitioner, the survey found. The survey did not say if a priest, rabbi, minister, pastor or shaman’s assistance in prayer was counted as care from a licensed practitioner.

None of that kept the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine from trumpeting the results as the arrival of alterative medicines in the United States. “These new findings confirm the extent to which Americans have turned to complementary and alternative approaches with the hope that they would help treat and prevent disease and enhance quality of life,” said Dr. Stephen Straus, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

A copy of the full report is available at .