Saffron, Natural Health Products - Complimentary Medicine and Integrative Health
We strongly believe there is a beneficial health role for Saffron and other natural plant medicines with our western clinical medicine. In fact, most people who use natural plant medicines and non-mainstream medical approaches also use conventional health care.
Complementary Versus Alternative Medicine
When describing these approaches, people often use “alternative” and “complementary” interchangeably, but the two terms refer to different concepts:
- If a non-mainstream practice is used together with conventional medicine, it’s considered “Complementary Medicine (CM).”
- If a non-mainstream practice is used in place of conventional medicine, it’s considered “Alternative Medicine.”
More than 30 percent of adults and about 12 percent of children in the US use health care approaches that are not typically part of conventional medical care, or that may have origins outside of usual Western practice. 1
More than 73% of Canadians regularly use complementary and alternative health care therapies such as vitamins and minerals, herbal products, homeopathic medicines and other natural health products to stay healthy and improve their quality of life. 2
A recent 2018 EU study determined that 26% of the general EU population used complimentary and alternative medicine during the previous 12 months. The use varied greatly by country, from 10% in Hungary to almost 40% in Germany, with use two to four fold greater among those with health problems, especially in individuals with difficult to diagnose health conditions. Complimentary medicine usage was far more common among women, and in those with higher education and higher incomes.3
Naturally, usage of complimentary and alternative medicine in other regions of the world exceeds their usage of western conventional medicine. Traditional Chinese and Herbal Medicine across the Asian region, Ayurvedic Medicine in the Indian subcontinent, and traditional plant medicine in Africa and the Middle East region have been used as first course medical therapies for millennium.
Furthermore, with respect to the Global Pharmaceutical Industry. “Of the $700 billions spent on therapeutic drugs each year, about $350 billions is wasted, as an estimated 50% of drugs are not as clinically effective as hoped. Adverse drug reactions cost almost $180 billions annually.” – The Journal of Personalized Medicine.
In additional to complementary and alternative medicine, the term “functional medicine” and overall concept of Integrative Health is becoming more widely accepted. This approach more closely resembles naturopathy; a medical system that has evolved from a combination of traditional practices and health care approaches popular in Europe during the 19th century. Integrative Health Care brings conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way. It emphasizes a holistic, patient-focused approach to healthcare and wellness, often including mental, emotional, functional, spiritual, social, and community aspects. Treating the whole person, Integrative Health aims for well-coordinated care between different healthcare providers and institutions. 1
Growth of Integrative Health Approaches
The use of integrative approaches to health and wellness has grown within healthcare settings across the United States. Researchers are currently exploring the potential benefits of integrative health in a variety of situations, including in pain management for military personnel and veterans, relief of symptoms in cancer patients and survivors, and integrated programs to promote healthy behaviors.1
The prevalence and growth of Complimentary Medicine (CM) is studied in the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an annual study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and the Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), in which tens of thousands of Americans are interviewed about their health- and illness-related experiences. The “complementary health” approaches section of this survey are developed by the NCHS and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). It is the most current, comprehensive, and reliable source of information on the use of complementary health approaches by U.S. adults and children.
Key Results of the NHIS survey 2012: 1
- 33.2% of U.S. adults and 11.6% of U.S. children age 4 to 17 used complementary health approaches.
- the most commonly used complementary approach was natural products (dietary supplements other than vitamins and minerals). 17.7% of adults and 4.9% of children age 4 to 17 used natural products.
- Pain—a condition for which people often use complementary health approaches—is common in U.S. adults. More than half had some pain during 3 months before survey.
- About 25 million adults (11.2%) have daily pain—pain every day in 3 months before survey. Adults with more severe pain had worse health, used more health care, and had more disability than those with less severe pain.
- U.S. adults who take natural products (dietary supplements other than vitamins and minerals) or who practice yoga were more likely to do so for wellness reasons than for treating a specific health condition.
- ~ 59 million Americans spent money out-of-pocket on complementary health approaches, and their total spending adds up to $30.2 billion a year. 1
Similar studies in people over 50 indicate that over half reported using complementary and alternative medicine, and over a third take some type of herbal product or dietary supplement. Importantly, only a third of all respondents and over half of those same users discussed this usage with their health care providers. This highlights the prevalence of complimentary medicine usage, but also the need for health care providers to ask about usage at every patient visit, and the need for people to know that complimentary medicine use is something that is important to discuss with their conventional medical providers. 4
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Maryland 20892
- Public Health Agency of Canada
- Kemppainen LM, Kemppainen TT, Reippainen JA, Salmenniemi ST, Vuolanto PH. Use of complementary and alternative medicine in Europe: Health-related and sociodemographic determinants. Scand J Public Health. 2017;46(4):448-455.
- Clarke TC, Black LI, Stussman BJ, Barnes PM, Nahin RL. Trends in the use of complementary health approaches among adults: United States, 2002–2012. National health statistics reports; no 79. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2015.
Information and statements provided on this site are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA. They are not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. Products are intended to support general well-being and a healthy lifestyle, not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure any condition or disease. Products should be used as directed and not during pregnancy or nursing.