Alt meds brings in big bucks but buyer beware

An interesting press release by analysts note how incredible popular alternative medicine is:

Global Traditional Medicine Market to Reach US$114 Billion by 2015, According to a New Report Published by Global Industry Analysts, Inc.

Consumer interest in alternative medicine (AM) is accelerating across the globe on account of rising healthcare costs associated with contemporary therapies. A growing number of individuals are falling prey to hypertension, depression, sleep disorders, and other lifestyle-related diseases, and are resorting to conventional medical treatments to cure or prevent the onset of such conditions. Complementary and alternative medicine currently provide healthcare to about 75 percent of the population in developing nations and over 50 percent of the population in the developed world for lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Health Insurance companies, such as those in the US, are increasingly offering patients coverage for more kinds of CAM and AM therapies.

The herbal remedies and homeopathic market posted steady gains largely as a result of a growing percentage of senior individuals, members of the baby boom generation who are now mostly in their 60s, seeking a more holistic approach to healthcare as their ailments become more chronic in nature. These ailments include arthritis and other degenerative ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, in addition to depression, headaches, and anxiety. There are either real or perceived limitations to conventional treatments for several of these conditions. Alternatively, sales figures indicate that the most common uses for herbal medicines are for conditions such as flu, burns, and colds.

Tip: @EdzardErnst on Twitter

But here is a nice add-on, although buried in the middle:

Unlike the stringent regulations and intensive research and development procedures that are mandatory for modern medicines, a similar set-up is lacking for alternative medicines. Thus, several risks are associated with AM therapies, such as toxicity, unfavorable side effects, injury possibilities, and a deficiency of qualified practitioners.

That’s a KEY point to be made about alt meds, besides the fact that most have NEVER been clinically proven to work. Here’s a thing you can look out for the next time you are in a pharmacy or see an ad for these types of products. Look to see if they use the word clinically “tested” instead of “proven”. Testing doesn’t mean that it produced a positive result and so is a worthless claim. Even “proven” is dubious if they relied on few and biased studies. This is allowed for these products. It is NOT at all the same for actual regulated drugs prescribed or sold with the claim that they actually have an active, effective ingredient. Buyer beware. If it sounds great but you’ve not heard of it from your physician, then it is not a good buy.