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J Clin Gastroenterol. 2010 Feb;44(2):e40-5. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e3181b766ed.

Complementary and alternative medicine use in chronic liver disease patients.

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Yale School of Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.



To examine a wide range of sociodemographic and clinical characteristics as potential predictors of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among chronic liver disease (CLD) patients, with a focus on CAM therapies with the greatest potential for hepatotoxicity and interactions with conventional treatments.


There is some evidence that patients with CLD commonly use CAM to address general and CLD-specific health concerns.


Patients enrolled in a population-based surveillance study of persons newly diagnosed with CLD between 1999 and 2001 were asked about current use of CAM specifically for CLD. Sociodemographic and clinical information was obtained from interviews and medical records. Predictors of CAM use were examined using univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis.


Of the 1040 participants, 284 (27.3%) reported current use of at least 1 of 3 CAM therapies of interest. Vitamins or other dietary supplements were the most commonly used therapy, reported by 188 (18.1%) patients. This was followed by herbal medicine (175 patients, 16.8%) and homeopathy (16 patients, 1.5%). Several characteristics were found to be independent correlates of CAM use: higher education and family income, certain CLD etiologies (alcohol, hepatitis C, hepatitis C and alcohol, and hepatitis B), and prior hospitalization for CLD.


Use of CAM therapies that have the potential to interact with conventional treatments for CLD was quite common among this population-based sample of patients with CLD. There is a need for patient and practitioner education and communication regarding CAM use in the context of CLD.

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