• Is there scientific evidence (not just personal stories) to back up the state- ments?

• What is the source? Statements that manufacturers or other promoters of some complementary health approach- es may make about effectiveness and benefits can sound reasonable and promising. However, the statements may be based on a biased view of the avail- able scientific evidence.

• Does the Federal Government have anything to report about the product or practice?

~ Visit the NCCIH Web site or contact the NCCIH Clearinghouse to see if NCCIH has information about the product or practice.

~ Visit the U.S. Food and Drug Admin- istration (FDA) online at to see if there is any information avail- able about the product or practice.

~ Information specifically about di- etary supplements can be found on the FDA’s Web site at Food/DietarySupplements/ and on the Web site of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supple- ments at

~ Visit the FDA's Web page on recalls and safety alerts at Safety/Recalls/. The FDA has a rapid public notification system to provide information about tainted dietary supplements. See AboutFDA/ContactFDA/StayInformed/ RSSFeeds/TDS/rss.xml.

~ Check with the Federal Trade Com- mission at to see if there are any enforcement actions for de- ceptive advertising regarding the therapy. Also, visit the site’s Con- sumer Information section at www.

• How does the provider or manufac- turer describe the approach?

~ Beware of terms like “scientific 24

breakthrough,” “miracle cure,” “secret ingredient,” or “ancient remedy.” ~ If you encounter claims of a “quick fix” that depart from previous re- search, keep in mind that science usually advances over time by small steps, slowly building an evidence base.

~ Remember: if it sounds too good to be true—for example, claims that a product or practice can cure a disease or works for a variety of ailments—it usually is.

Is That Health Web Site Trustworthy? If you're visiting a health Web site for

the first time, these five quick questions can help you decide whether the site is a helpful resource.

• Who? Who runs the Web site? Can you trust them?

• What? What does the site say? Do its claims seem too good to be true?

• When? When was the information posted or reviewed? Is it up-to-date?

• Where? Where did the information come from? Is it based on scientific re- search?

• Why? Why does the site exist? Is it selling something?

Are complementary health approaches tested to see if they work? While scientific evidence now exists regarding the effectiveness and safety of some complementary health approaches, there remain many yet-to-be-answered questions about whether others are safe, whether they work for the diseases or medical conditions for which they are promoted, and how those approaches with health benefits may work. As the Federal Government’s lead agency for scientific research on health interventions, practices, products, and disciplines that originate from outside mainstream medicine, NC- CIH supports scientific research to answer these questions and determine who might benefit most from the use of specific ap- proaches.

I’m interested in an approach that in- volves seeing a complementary health practitioner. How do I go about selecting a practitioner?

• Your primary health care provider or local hospital may be able to recom- mend a complementary health practi- tioner.

• The professional organization for the type of practitioner you’re seeking may have helpful information, such as licens- ing and training requirements. Many states have regulatory agencies or licens- ing boards for certain types of comple- mentary health practitioners; they may be able to help you locate practitioners in your area.

• Make sure any practitioner you’re considering is willing to work in col- laboration with your other health care providers.

Can I participate in a clinical trial of a complementary health approach? NCCIH supports clinical

trials on

complementary health approaches. These trials are taking place in many locations, and study participants are needed. To learn more or to find trials that are recruiting participants, visit health-information/nih-clinical-research- trials-you. The site includes questions and answers about clinical trials, guidance on how to find clinical trials through Clinical-, and other resources and stories about the personal experiences of clinical trial participants. If you don’t have access to the Inter-

net, contact the NCCIH Clearinghouse for information. The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health ap- proaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treat- ment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

Reprinted from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website - 888-644- 6226

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