Evaluation of the Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the Largest United States-Mexico Border City


UTEP/UT-Austin Cooperative Pharmacy Program, 1100 North Stanton, Suite 301, El Paso, TX 79902.


Study Objective. To evaluate the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the El Paso, Texas, region.

Design. Prospective observational study conducted from April-October 2000.

Setting. Several hospitals and clinics.

Subjects. Five hundred forty-seven participants.

Intervention. Semi-structured interview with a bilingual questionnaire.

Measurements and Main Results. Complementary and alternative medicine was used in 77% of our population. The most common CAM providers were massage therapists (19.4%) and herbalists (12.4%). The most common herbal or home remedies were chamomile (13.1%) and aloe vera (8.5%). The most common nutritional or commercial products were multivitamins (16%), ginseng (3.6%), and ginkgo biloba (2.8%). We identified 599 CAM usages that could result in drug interactions, disease interactions, or adverse reactions.

Conclusions. A wide range of CAM use was documented in this study. Our results indicate that Hispanics in this area use CAM at a higher rate than national trends. Many of these therapies can adversely affect a variety of disease states and drug therapies.