NIH Launches Consumer-Friendly Tips Series on Complementary Health Practices

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A new series of monthly health tips, Time to Talk Tips, will provide consumers with easy-to-read information on complementary health practices. The effort is managed by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health.

A resource in NCCAM’s Time to Talk campaign, the series highlights specific health topics, such as the safe use of dietary supplements, natural products used for the flu and colds, and mind and body approaches used to manage symptoms of a variety of conditions. The series will include simple tips, such as: Taking vitamin C regularly does not reduce the likelihood of getting a cold but may improve some cold symptoms, and some dietary supplements may interact with medications (prescription or over-the-counter) or other dietary supplements.

“An increasing number of consumers and patients use the Internet to answer health questions, yet the information they find can be overwhelming and is not always relevant or credible,” said Josephine P. Briggs, MD, director of NCCAM. “This series will give people evidence-based facts to help them make more informed health care decisions. Health care providers can also provide these tips to their patients who are interested in learning more about complementary health practices.”

The tips accompany topics found in the NCCAM Clinical Digest, a monthly e-newsletter for health care providers that addresses the state of science on complementary health practices for a variety of health conditions. These same topics will also be discussed in monthly Twitter chats, allowing the public to interact with the center, ask questions, and receive answers in real time.

Nearly 40 percent of Americans use some form of complementary health practice, according to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey. Through its Time to Talk campaign, NCCAM encourages patients and providers to talk about the use of complementary health practices by offering tools and resources—such as wallet cards and tip sheets—that are available for free.

To learn more about NCCAM’s Time to Talk Tips, visit nccam.nih.gov/timetotalk.