With up to 60% of IBD patients using unconventional remedies, GIs should urge caution

Research suggests up to 60 percent of inflammatory bowel disease patients are turning to alternative medicines to ease symptoms, and as a result, Boston-based Harvard Medical School's Adam Cheifetz, MD, said gastroenterologists should ensure patients are still taking prescribed therapies, Medpage Today reports.

Here's what you should know:

1. Dr. Cheifetz said GIs have a responsibility to ask patients if they're utilizing complementary and alternative medicines. Because research on CAM safety is practically nonexistent, GIs should take every step to ensure patients are using CAMs as complementary agents instead of alternatives to prescribed medicines.

2. He added CAMs are unregulated and often suffer from quality and content control; side effects and potential interactions with prescriptions are a large concern.

3. Dr. Cheifetz said when a patient is interested in a CAM, he suggests the patient try it as a bridge between different levels of IBD therapies.

4. He also suggested that GIs look into CAMs and explore the mechanisms and evidence behind them, to offer rational advice to patients.

5. Dr. Cheifetz said, "Although CAMs could be used to supplement conventional IBD therapy, further research is needed to validate these approaches."

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