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.

Supplements
Supplements
Cost: Pennies a day to budget busting, depending on your appetite
Covered by insurance: Generally not, though some are prescription medicines
Bottom Line: Many work in small dosages, but marketing often pushes the supersize idea
The FDA says supplements can help ensure that you get necessary nutrients daily. Some may help reduce the risk of diseases such as cancer - though it hasn't been proved by research - but they don't cure disease.

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are a popular supplement combo; athletes take it for joint pain. The research on its effectiveness is mixed, and the cost can reach $1,000 a year or more.

Vitamins are coming under fire these days. In February the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that taking vitamin A and E and beta carotene supplements increases the risk of death. That study, which rolled up the results of multiple trials, is controversial.

What's not is that people who have been gobbling megadoses of supplements in hopes of boosting their immune systems and protecting themselves against cancer aren't doing themselves any favors.

"For some people the drugstore with its walls of vitamins promising health and vitality is even more thrilling than a candy store to a kid," says Michael Parkinson, president of the American College of Preventive Medicine in Washington, D.C.

"And in the case of vitamins especially, they tend to believe that what may be good in small doses must be even better in big doses. That's a dangerous assumption."

Finally, taking supplements to treat serious illness can be dangerous. Type 2 diabetes cannot be controlled with supplements, as some marketers claim.

Undergoing surgery? Tell your surgeon about your supplements and stop taking them two to three weeks in advance.

Acupuncture

Herbs

Homeopathy

Supplements

Massage

Meditation

Chiropractic
As a baby boomer, you're probably making the best money of your career with little time for your health. But as you get older, your well-being gets more valuable. Money Magazine offers a few tips on how to take care of your aging self. (more)
Politicians are talking health reform again, and they have three big ideas for how to get there. Each one would make a big difference in your family's bottom line. (more)
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.
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.