Despite mixed results from studies on the health benefits of complimentary health approaches such as nonvitamin and nonmineral dietary supplements, they remain popular among patients. Two new studies from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) compare data from the National Health Interview Survey conducted in 2002, 2007, and 2012 in adults and in 2007 and 2012 in children on the use of complimentary health approaches and trends in specific approaches.

Complementary health approaches assessed in the survey included the use of nonvitamin, nonmineral dietary supplements such as fish oil, glucosamine, chondroitin, or a combination supplement, probiotic or prebiotic, echinacea, garlic, ginseng, ginkgo biloba, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), saw palmetto, and melatonin.

Survey Results for Adults

Among the 88,962 adults aged ≥18 surveyed, the percentage that used any complementary health approach in the past 12 months ranged from 32.3% in 2002, 35.5% in 2007, and 33.2% in 2012. Among men, this use decreased by 2.5 percentage points from 2007 to 2012 but no significant difference was seen among women in this time frame. Use of nonvitamin, nonmineral dietary supplements was the most commonly used complementary health approach at each of the three time points at 18.9% in 2002 and unchanged from 2007 to 2012 (17.7%).