Trend: More physicians offer alternative medicine

For the most part, the healthcare profession has been moving further and further in the direction of evidence-based approaches. However, a growing number of physicians are also looking at time-honored--if poorly investigated--approaches known as complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM).

CAM typically falls into one of four categories: natural products, such as vitamins and supplements; energy medicine (acupuncture); chiropractic/manipulative practices; and mind-body (meditation, yoga or deep breathing). Physician-advocates say CAM approaches are intriguing because they go beyond treating a patient's disease and look at the whole person, treating underlying problems such as stress and poor nutrition.

Meanwhile, medical schools have increasingly taught integrative practices. For example, a CAM consortium including Duke University, Harvard and Northwestern now includes 43 schools.

In any event, it's evident that patients are seeking out CAM options. According to one government report, almost 40 percent of U.S. adults used integrative therapies in 2008, largely to treat chronic back pain, neck and joint pain, arthritis, anxiety, high cholesterol and head or chest colds.

Get more information on this trend:
- read this Chicago Tribune piece