Friday, August 07, 2009

Alternative medicine is a very expensive con

Complementary and alternative medicine such as acupuncture, herbal supplements and meditation are big business in the United States, totaling nearly $34 billion in out-of-pocket spending, according to a government report released on Thursday. More than 38 million adults visited chiropractors, acupuncturists and other specialists in alternative care in 2007, the report from the National Institutes of Health found.

About two-thirds of this amount was spent on products such as supplements, with nearly $12 billion going to practitioners, according to the report from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. "Despite this emphasis on self-care therapies, 38.1 million adults made an estimated 354.2 million visits to practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine," the report said.

Complementary medicine, such as aromatherapy to ease discomfort after surgery, is used with conventional medicine whereas alternative medicine is used in place of it, the center says. Other findings:

* Complementary or alternative therapies make up 1.5 percent of the $2.2 trillion in total health care expenditures.

* Popular products included fish oil, glucosamine to treat arthritis and Echinacea to prevent or treat colds.

* Common treatments included acupuncture, chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation and traditional healing.

* On average, an adult spent $121.92 on visits to providers and paid $29.37 out of pocket per visit.

* People spent $14.8 billion out of pocket to buy nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products -- a third of what is spent on pharmaceuticals.

"With so many Americans using and spending money on (complementary and alternative) therapies, it is extremely important to know whether the products and practices they use are safe and effective," said NCCAM director Dr. Josephine Briggs. "This underscores the importance of conducting rigorous research and providing evidence-based information on complementary and alternative medicine so that health care providers and the public can make well-informed decisions." Her institute was established in 1998 to conduct this research.


Vegetarians' outrage as British supermarket acknowledges 'macabre' practice of turning out-of-date meat into electricity

And I thought that was where sausages came from!

Consumers should be informed if any of their home electricity is being generated using the 'macabre' recycling of waste meat from supermarkets, campaigners said today. Tesco now sends 5,000 tons of meat that has passed its sell-by date to be turned into enough National Grid electricity to power 600 homes for a year.

The retail giant has hailed the scheme as part of a 'green' drive which had enabled it to stop sending any of the waste it produces to environmentally damaging landfill sites.

But animal rights campaign group Viva said many non-meat eaters would be 'horrified' that their houses were being part-powered by out-of-date meat. And they said any environmental benefits of recycling the meat were far outweighed by the greenhouse gases produced by rearing so much more meat than was needed in the first place.

Justin Kerswell, campaigns manager for Viva (Vegetarians International Voice for Animals), said: 'It's a sad indictment of modern life that not only hundreds of millions of animals are killed each year in the UK, but so much meat is left over from greed and indifference. 'To turn this wasted meat into power might seem like a good idea at first, but you have to ask yourself why is so much left over and why are so many animals dying to provide this excess? 'Surely killing fewer animals in the first place should be the aim.

'Whatever savings are made by turning this meat into energy is more than voided by the huge amount of greenhouse gases generated by the farming and production of the meat in the first place. Tesco should take a long hard look at its wasteful practices.' He said consumers should be told if their domestic power came from such sources. 'More and more people are choosing to adopt an ethical and green vegetarian or vegan diet. 'Most would be horrified to find out that their power was generated by left-over meat. Consumers should have the right to know if their power is generated in this macabre manner.'

But a spokesman for Tesco dismissed the claims, saying the amount recycled in this way is a 'tiny proportion' of the meat the chain sells. He said: 'We aim to have no waste at all but even with a highly efficient supply chain, a tiny amount is inevitable. 'The amount of meat waste from our stores makes up less than 1 per cent of our total waste, and a miniscule proportion of meat sold. 'Tesco wants to play its part in helping the environment by ensuring that none of our waste goes to landfill, which produces damaging methane gas, but instead is reused in a productive way.'

Government-funded waste body Wrap (Waste and Resources Action Programme) says retailers generate about 1.6 million tons of food waste each year, including meat, with food manufacturers throwing away 4.1 million tons and restaurant and other outlets another three million.

Britain lags behind other European countries in the use of so-called 'anaerobic digestion' conversion, and ministers were handed recommendations on how to boost rates by an expert review panel last month. Meat and other food waste is processed in biomass-to-energy plants which turn waste food into bio-fuel and then use that to produce renewable electricity.

Tesco, the UK's biggest retailer, said this week that it had succeeded in diverting all of its annual 531,000 tonnes of waste away from landfill. Schemes such as the meat-to-power conversion, recycling cardboard boxes into new ones and turning recycled carrier bags into rubbish sacks had all been used as part of the drive, it said.


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