The results are in from the largest US study on non-conventional medicine ever performed--Americans' use of complimentary and alternative medicine is growing strong. According to the government survey of 31,000 people, more than a third of American adults used some form of alternative medicine in 2002. If prayer is included, about 62% of American adults used some form of alternative medicine.

Richard Nahin of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, told the Associated Press: 'Many conditions are not easily treated with conventional medicine. It may be the public is turning to complementary and alternative medicine because it's not getting relief from conventional medicine."

The modalities most used by survey participants included prayer, natural products, meditation, and diets such as Atkins and the Zone. Unfortunately, the results of this survey cannot be directly compared to previous studies, such as the well-known study from David Eisenberg, because of differences in survey size and research methodology.

According to the study, the ten most commonly used alternative therapies are:

43 percent—Prayer for one's own health
24 percent—Prayer by others for one's own health
19 percent—Natural products (vitamins, minerals, herbs, enzymes, etc.)
12 percent—Deep-breathing exercises
10 percent—Participation in prayer group for one's own health
8 percent—Meditation
8 percent—Chiropractic care
5 percent—Yoga
5 percent—Massage
4 percent—Diet-based therapies (such as Atkins, Pritikin, etc.)

People most likely to use alternative medicine are women (no surprise here), people who are highly educated, those who had been hospitalized recently, and ex-smokers. These populations were most likely to try alternative approaches to relieve back, neck, head and joint pain; colds; insomnia; stomach problems; anxiety; and depression.

A disturbing to health officials was that 13% of those surveyed said they turned to alternative medicine because regular medicine is too expensive--sad commentary on the health care system in the United States.