From Acupuncture to Vitamins: A guide to alternative therapies

With so many alternatives to conventional medicine, how do you know what works and what's just old-fashioned snake oil? Money Magazine takes a close look.

Herbs
Herbs
Cost: $10 to $20 for a 100-capsule bottle
Covered by insurance: No
Bottom Line: Very faddish; sometimes dangerous
There's a back-to-basics appeal in herbal medicines that marketers understand all too well. Testing by NCCAM, though, has turned up little evidence that the remedies work.

Remember the excitement over echinacea? More than 14 million people used it in 2002 for cold prevention or as a remedy. Turns out, tests later showed, that it does nothing.

Saw palmetto to shrink enlarged prostates? There's scant evidence that it works. Federal testing has found that other herbs, like depression remedy St. John's wort, interfere with prescription drugs. Kava, used to treat insomnia and anxiety, has been linked to serious liver damage.

That's not to say all herbal remedies are bad. Kudzu extract, for example, seems to help heavy drinkers imbibe less.

Check a product's label to see if it complies with the Food and Drug Administration's Good Manufacturing Practices program, or look for a seal from the United States Pharmacopoeia, which sets public standards for health care products made in the U.S.

Acupuncture

Herbs

Homeopathy

Supplements

Massage

Meditation

Chiropractic
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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.