Skip to main content

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Is Prevalent Among Patients with Gastrointestinal Diseases

Abstract

Introduction

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use is reported to be higher among patients with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease; however, demographic predictors and reasons for utilization for all GI conditions are less clear.

Aim

To determine prevalence, predictors, and reasons for CAM use among all patients attending a gastrointestinal (GI) clinic in a single academic center.

Methods

Adults attending outpatient GI clinics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center completed a questionnaire to assess CAM utilization as well as perceived benefits, harms, and costs of CAM therapy. Fisher’s exact test was used to compare statistical differences between CAM and non-CAM users.

Results

Survey questionnaires were completed by 269 patients. Prevalence of CAM use was 44 % (95 % CI 38–50). Users were more likely to be female (81 vs. 56 %, p < 0.01) and dissatisfied with conventional treatment (22 vs. 8 %, p < 0.01). There was no significant difference in age, race, education, income, GI diagnosis, and duration of symptoms between the two groups. Users reported “wish to feel generally better” as main reason for utilization, and a majority of patients (62 %) experienced improved GI symptoms. Among patients who did not discuss CAM with their physicians (30 %), they cited physician failure to ask about CAM as the major reason (82 %).

Conclusion

CAM is prevalent among patients attending a GI clinic, particularly among women and those who are dissatisfied with conventional therapies and “wish to feel better.” Greater awareness and understanding of CAM among GI physicians is necessary.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Langmead L, Rampton DS. Review article: herbal treatment in gastrointestinal and liver disease—benefits and dangers. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2001;15:1239–1252.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Zollman C, Vickers A. ABC of complementary medicine. Users and practitioners of complementary medicine. Br Med J. 1999;319:836–838.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Eisenberg DM, Davis RB, Ettner SL, et al. Trends in alternative medicine use in the United States. 1990–1997: results of a follow-up national survey. JAMA. 1998;280:1569–1575.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Chitturi S, Farrell GC. Herbal hepatotoxicity: an expanding but poorly defined problem. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2000;15:1093–1099.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Van Tilburg MA, Palsson OS, Levy RL, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine use and cost in functional bowel disorders: a six month prospective study in a large HMO. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2008;8:46.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Rawsthorne P, Shanahan F, Cronin NC, et al. An international survey of the use and attitudes regarding alternative medicine by patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 1999;94:1298–1303.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Moody GA, Eaden JA, Bhakta P, Sher K, Mayberry JF. The role of complementary medicine in European and Asian patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Public Health. 1998;112:269–271.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Hilsden RJ, Scott CM, Verhoef MJ. Complementary medicine use by patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 1998;93:697–701.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Moser G, Tillinger W, Sachs G, et al. Relationship between the use of unconventional therapies and disease-related concerns: a study of patients with inflammatory bowel disease. J Psychosom Res. 1996;40:503–509.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Magge S, Lembo A. Complementary and alternative medicine for the irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2011;40:245–253.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Spanier JA, Howden CW, Jones MP. A systematic review of alternative therapies in the irritable bowel syndrome. Arch Intern Med. 2003;163:265–274.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Kong SC, Hurlstone DP, Pocock CY, et al. The Incidence of self-prescribed oral complementary and alternative medicine use by patients with gastrointestinal diseases. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2005;39:138–141.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Strader DB, Bacon BR, Lindsay KL, et al. Use of complementary and alternative medicine in patients with liver disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2002;97:2391–2397.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Astin JA. Why patients use alternative medicine: results of a national study. JAMA. 1998;279:1548–1553.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Dossett ML, Davis RB, Lembo AJ, Yeh GY. Complementary and alternative medicine use by US adults with gastrointestinal conditions: results from the 2012 national health interview survey. Am J Gastroenterol. 2014;109:1705–1711.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Rawsthorne P, Clara I, Graff LA, et al. The Manitoba inflammatory bowel disease cohort study: a prospective longitudinal evaluation of the use of complementary and alternative services and products. Gut. 2012;61:521–527.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Gaylord SA, Palsson OS, Garland EL, et al. Mindfulness training reduces the severity of irritable bowel syndrome in women: results of a randomized controlled trial. Am J Gastroenterol. 2011;106:1678–1688.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Conflict of interest

None.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Adelina Hung.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 15 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (DOC 60 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hung, A., Kang, N., Bollom, A. et al. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Is Prevalent Among Patients with Gastrointestinal Diseases. Dig Dis Sci 60, 1883–1888 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10620-014-3498-3

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10620-014-3498-3

Keywords

  • Complementary medicine
  • Alternative medicine
  • CAM
  • Probiotics
  • Gastrointestinal diseases
  • Dietary supplements