Today, Liz Szabo of USA Today offers a thoughtful look into the field of complementary and alternative health. Szabo cites cautionary tales of unfounded health claims and aggressive marketing come-ons that can be common. Yet, she makes room for another critical point—a number of complementary health practic
Past Blog Posts
As we know, chronic low back pain (cLBP) is an enormous public-health problem—and a frustrating one to patients, health-care providers, and researchers. Up to one-quarter of Americans experience LBP per year, and for some, that pain becomes chronic—a condition that costs the United States an estimated $100 billion per year. Current best practices for its diagnosis and treatment are only partially successful.
Since the beginning of NCCAM, the starting point for us has been the “real-world” use of complementary health approaches. Over time, we have supported a number of surveys and other observational studies, and have learned a good deal about the choices Americans are making in complementary approaches, the reasons they cite, and the associated costs. There is more to learn, of course, but we have pretty good descriptive data about real-world practices. And we have learned that the focus of most use is on pain management.
As the Nation’s medical research agency, NIH supports the full spectrum of pain research, from increasing basic understanding of pain mechanisms through translating new discoveries into prevention and treatment strategies. Pain is a major strategic focus for NCCAM in the context of complementary health approaches. About 30 percent of NCCAM’s research portfolio supports research on pain. Our intramural research program, headed by Catherine Bushnell, Ph.D., focuses on the role of the brain in perceiving, modifying, and managing pain.
Yesterday, President Barack Obama announced the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Arati Prabhakar, Ph.D., Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, co-wrote a guest post on The White House Blog that provides an overview of the pioneering effort to rally Federal agencies, nonprofits, foundations, companies, and others in the challenge to understand the complexities of the human brain.