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Medicine & Healthcare, Wiley-Blackwell

Making Alternative Medicine A Safe Alternative

Australians should think twice before mixing alternative medicine with pharmaceutical medicine.

This is the finding from a study published in the August issue of Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

Andrew Armstrong and colleagues from the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling investigated the use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) in Australia.

The study looked at CAM use in treating five chronic conditions: asthma, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis and heart or circulatory conditions.

“The survey estimated that around 42% of Australian adults were living with one or more of these five conditions, and around one-quarter of these were using CAM specifically to treat their illness,” Dr Armstrong said.

 “With higher rates of CAM use there is the potential for adverse drug interactions with pharmaceutical medicines.

“This is particularly important because many people do not disclose their CAM use to their medical practitioner and many doctors do not ask their patients.”

The term CAM covers vitamin/mineral supplements or natural/herbal treatments whether they are prescribed or bought over the counter.