Introduction: The prevalence of use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is high in developed countries and is believed to be even higher in developing countries. There are no data on the use of CAM in patients with gastrointestinal tract disorders in Mexico.
Objective: To determine the prevalence of CAM use in Mexican patients with gastrointestinal disorders.
Material and methods: A survey was applied to all first-time patients presenting at the gastroenterology service between December 2003 and November 2004. Patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS, defined by Rome II), functional dyspepsia (FD, defined by Rome II), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD, defined as erosive esophagitis or abnormal pH intraesophageal monitoring) were included. The use of CAM to relieve gastrointestinal symptoms was examined and the demographic data, the disease history and healthcare use 12 months prior to the study were recorded.
Results: The survey was answered by 413 patients (61% IBS, 22% FD y 17% GERD). A total of 181 users of CAM were identified (44% of the total group). The use of CAM was most frequent for IBS (51% IBS, 36% FD, 27% GERD). Herbal medicine was the type of CAM most often used by all groups. The factors associated with CAM use were IBS, history of abdominal surgery, emergency room visits, disabilities and prescription of benzodiazepines, and > or = 3 medical visits for gastrointestinal tract disorders within the previous year.
Conclusions: Prevalence of CAM use is high in general and significantly higher for IBS. Herbal medicine is the most frequently used modality.