National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health

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Health Topics A-Z

Selected Research Results by Date

Research spotlights of selected studies are shown below. For a full list of published NCCIH Research to-date, see PubMed.

Spotlights for 2008

According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, 38 percent of U.S. adults and 12 percent of children use some form of complementary and alternative medicine. (December 2008)
Cocoa beans in a cacao pod
Essential hypertension is characterized by both endothelial dysfunction and insulin resistance. (December 2008)
Woman performing Reiki.
People with fibromyalgia often turn to complementary health approaches, such as Reiki, to help relieve their pain. (November 2008)
Acupuncture applied to a man's ear.
Brain imaging has been used to explore how acupuncture relieves pain. (November 2008)
Understanding how the brain governs the placebo effect, a beneficial health outcome resulting from the expectation that an intervention will be effective, may help clinicians’ efforts to improve health. (November 2008)
A multi-year, placebo-controlled clinical trial involving 3,069 older adults found that ginkgo did not reduce the incidence of overall dementia and Alzheimer’s. (November 2008)
Person rubbing hands together in pain.
Green tea may affect rheumatoid arthritis by causing changes in immune responses. (November 2008)
Results of a recent national survey of U.S. physicians’ current attitudes toward and use of placebo treatments. (October 2008)
X-ray of a joint.
A 2-year study of 572 people with moderate or severe knee osteoarthritis found that glucosamine and chondroitin were no more effective than placebo in slowing loss of knee cartilage. (October 2008)
Previous animal studies have indicated that an extract from leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree may protect against stroke-related brain injury. (October 2008)
St. John's wort
Researchers reviewed the scientific literature on St. John’s wort for major depression and analyzed findings from randomized, double-blind studies comparing St. John’s wort extracts with placebo and standard... (October 2008)
Echium plantagineum L. - salvation jane
High triglyceride levels have been recognized as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. (October 2008)
Electroacupuncture needles in arm.
Alcohol and drug addiction pose serious medical, social, and economic problems in the United States. (October 2008)
Electroacupuncture needles in arm.
The researchers concluded that electroacupuncture eases cancer pain in rats, at least in part by inhibiting spinal dynorphin. (October 2008)
Breast cancer survivor in pink sweater outdoors
Hypnosis may help with hot flashes, which are a problem for many menopausal women and a common side effect of breast cancer treatment. (September 2008)
Participants in a yoga class meditating while in the lotus pose.
Disease risk, progression, and premature mortality have been linked to telomeres, which are protective DNA-protein complexes that keep cells genetically stable. (September 2008)
Man getting a massage.
Symptom relief is an important part of end-of-life care, and small studies have suggested that massage therapy may benefit people with advanced cancer. (September 2008)
Research suggests that black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) extracts may stimulate bone formation, a finding that has potential implications for treating osteoporosis. (September 2008)
Mortar and Pestel
Nearly 21 percent of Ayurvedic medicines tested contained detectable levels of lead (most common), mercury, or arsenic. All metal-containing products exceeded one or more standards for acceptable daily metal intake... (August 2008)
Color enhanced scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the bacteria Lactobacillus
Previous studies indicate that probiotics may have a role in treating gastrointestinal illnesses, boosting immunity, and preventing or slowing the development of certain types of cancer. (July 2008)
Students practice tai chi
Tai chi chih may serve as an effective approach to improving sleep quality in older people with moderate complaints. (July 2008)
The form of vitamin E commonly found in foods may be a useful additional treatment for asthma. (July 2008)
People in a tai Chi class.
Practicing tai chi may improve sleep patterns in people with chronic heart failure. (July 2008)
Hands in prayer
The pomegranate has been used for centuries to treat inflammatory diseases, and people with RA sometimes take dietary supplements containing a pomegranate extract called POMx. (July 2008)
Rows of dried herbs line the shelves.
A special supplement of the journal Metabolism describes research aimed at strengthening the scientific evidence base for using botanicals to understand and combat metabolic syndrome. (July 2008)
Authors of a new study in mice found that grape seed-derived polyphenolics—similar to that in red wine—significantly reduced Alzheimer’s disease-type cognitive deterioration. (June 2008)
Participants in a yoga class meditating while in the lotus pose.
A recent pilot study suggests that intensive lifestyle and diet changes may alter gene expression (the way a gene acts) in the prostate, possibly affecting the progression of prostate cancer. (June 2008)
A child receives an exam from her health care provider.
Researchers at Bastyr University conducted an 8-week randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of St. John’s wort among a volunteer sample of 54 children aged 6 to17 years with ADHD. (June 2008)
Woman in a Tai Chi pose.
Stress management interventions may improve immune function and coping skills in HIV-positive individuals. (June 2008)
X-ray of a joint.
Because people may not respond to standard treatments such as rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and corticosteorid injections, prolotherapy is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative ... (June 2008)
seated massage
Acupuncture typically involves a period of active needle stimulation, followed by a longer period of rest. (June 2008)
More than a quarter of cancer patients visited complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) providers during treatment, accounting for 1 percent or less of all treatment costs. (May 2008)
A review of a pilot study of a ginkgo biloba extract for delaying the onset of dementia in the elderly to see if a reduction in progression to dementia could be detected in those using ginkgo versus those using ... (May 2008)
The February 2008 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition features eight articles from the NIH Botanical Research Centers Program, which is co-funded by the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements and NCCAM. (April 2008)
Doctor talking to patient
Study sheds light on the placebo effect of medical encounters (April 2008)
Bottles, bowl, and hrebs.
Lemon and lavender scents have no effect on immune status, wound healing, or pain control, but lemon may enhance mood. (April 2008)
Pill Bottles
A recent study found substantial variation in policies and policy quality regarding dietary supplement use in children’s hospitals, even though more than 30% of children in the U.S. take dietary supplements ... (April 2008)
Doctor speaking to elderly man.
Researchers evaluated the effectiveness of botanicals for conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, insulin resistance, and excess fats in the blood. (April 2008)
Research at the University of Wisconsin has used advanced brain images to show that compassion meditation may increase the human capacity for empathy. (March 2008)
A study in mice shows that a Chinese herbal formula may help prevent dangerous reactions to peanuts. (March 2008)
A review of seven clinical trials of acupuncture given with embryo transfer in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) suggests that acupuncture may improve rates of pregnancy. (March 2008)
Researchers have found that bromelain - an enzyme derived from pineapple stems- might be able to reduce inflammation in IBD. (March 2008)
Researchers studying low-back pain treatments found a naturopathic approach with a range of options?acupuncture, exercise and dietary advice, relaxation training, and a booklet?was more cost-effective than the employer... (March 2008)
A clinical trial by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Health System explored the effects of flaxseed on various cardiovascular risk factors in adults. (February 2008)