Health Panel Suggests Alternative Treatments

Article excerpt

Can't sleep? Try meditation.

And if your lower back hurts, why not hypnotize the pain away?

Meditation and hypnosis are among the alternative treatments an independent panel of the National Institutes of Health suggested recently as ways for millions of Americans to cope with insomnia and chronic pain.

"A number of well-defined behavioral and relaxation interventions are now available, some of which are commonly used to treat chronic pain and insomnia," concluded the panel of 12 experts in behavior, pain and sleep medicines, nursing, psychology and neurology.

They include relaxation, biofeedback and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

"Available data support the effectiveness of these interventions in relieving chronic pain and in achieving some reduction in insomnia," said the panel.

Dr. Julius Richmond, professor of health policy analysis at Harvard Medical School, said many patients have had little or no success with current medical treatments, most of which are based on drugs and surgery.

But while the panel urged acceptance and wider use of behavioral and relaxation techniques in combination with conventional treatments, it was unable to recommend any of the methods as being better than another.

For any particular patient, however, one approach may work better than another. …