The National Institutes of Health says approximately 4 in 10 adults and 1 in 9 children use some form of complementary or alternative medicine in the U.S.
And that data is 10 years old. The use of alternative methods such as herbal supplements, acupuncture, meditation, and yoga could be more prevalent today.
The Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher College says there is a gap locally between the level of interest in these treatments and therapies and the amount of available information. So the school is hosting an integrative medicine symposium next weekend. It will feature panel discussions with local and national health experts.
Pharmacist and assistant professor Beth Sutton-Burke says it's important for patients to understand the potential unintended consequences of certain supplements, for instance.
"A lot of people use St. John's Wort for mood or depression, sometimes for sleep,” she said. “But it uses one of the same pathways that almost all of our major medications use, so there are lots and lots of interactions, and sometimes very dangerous interactions, when people mix medications and St. John's Wort."
Sutton-Burke says some western trained doctors are open to alternative therapies, as long as their patients are open and honest about what they're doing.
The symposium runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 21 on the St. John Fisher campus.