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The Manitoba Inflammatory Bowel Disease Cohort Study: a prospective longitudinal evaluation of the use of complementary and alternative medicine services and products
  1. Patricia Rawsthorne1,2,
  2. Ian Clara1,
  3. Lesley A Graff1,3,
  4. Kylie I Bernstein1,
  5. Rachel Carr1,
  6. John R Walker1,3,
  7. Jason Ediger1,3,
  8. Linda Rogala1,2,
  9. Norine Miller1,2,
  10. Charles N Bernstein1,2
  1. 1University of Manitoba IBD Clinical and Research Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  2. 2Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  3. 3Department of Clinical Health Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Charles N Bernstein, University of Manitoba, 804F-715 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3E3P4, Canada; cbernst{at}


Objective To determine the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use over time in a population-based cohort of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Methods The Manitoba IBD Cohort Study is a longitudinal, population-based study of multiple determinants of health outcomes in an IBD cohort. Participants completed semi-annual surveys, and annual in-person interviews. Enquiries about the use of 12 types of CAM service providers and 13 CAM products, based on items from a national survey, were included at months 0, 12, 30 and 54.

Results Overall, 74% of respondents used a CAM service or product in the 4.5-year period, with approximately 40% using some type of CAM at each time point, and 14% using CAM consistently at every time point. There was a trend for women to use CAM more than men; there was no difference in CAM use between patients with Crohn's disease and those with ulcerative colitis. The most often used CAM services (on average) were massage therapy (30%) and chiropractic (14%), physiotherapy (4%), acupuncture (3.5%) and naturopathy/homeopathy (3.5%). A wide range of CAM products were used, with Lactobacillus acidophilus (8%), fish and other oils (5.5%), glucosamine (4%) and chamomile (3.5%) as the most common. On average, only 18% of consumers used CAM for their IBD, so the majority chose it for other problems. There were no differences in psychological variables between CAM users and non-users.

Conclusions Those with IBD commonly try CAM, although very few use these approaches regularly over the years. CAM is not usually used by patients with IBD for disease management, but clinicians should be aware that many will test the services and products.

  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Crohn's disease
  • ulcerative colitis
  • longitudinal cohort study, epidemiology
  • dysplasia
  • IBD
  • osteoporosis

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  • Funding The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research grant number 86482.

  • Competing interests In the past year Dr Bernstein has consulted to Abbott Canada, Astra Zeneca Canada, Janssen Canada, Shire Canada and has received research funding from Abbott Canada, Prometheus Laboratories and an unrestricted educational grant from Axcan Pharma. The other authors report no conflicts of interest.

  • Ethics approval University of Manitoba Research Ethics Board.

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.