Complementary Health Approaches

Research on Diseases Affecting Older Adults

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds research into the safety and effectiveness of complementary health approaches. Much of this research involves diseases and conditions that are common among older adults.

An important focus of current research is how complementary health approaches may help manage disease symptoms and improve patients’ quality of life.

For example, studies have shown that some complementary health approaches may help cancer patients cope with their disease or its treatment. Both acupuncture and the herb ginger may help to control nausea related to chemotherapy, and mindfulness meditation may help cancer patients relieve stress and anxiety.

Both Basic and Clinical Research

NIH research on complementary health approaches includes both basic research (laboratory and animal studies) and clinical research (studies in people). Both types of research are important. Basic research investigates effects in the body, and studies in people show whether a complementary health approach is effective and safe.

Here are some examples of NIH-sponsored research projects on complementary health approaches for diseases or conditions common among older adults.

Cognitive Decline and Alzheimer’s Disease

Heart Disease and Other Circulatory Problems



Prostate Enlargement


Age-related Macular Degeneration

Sleep Problems in Older Adults

Hepatitis C

For More Information

You can learn more about NIH-sponsored research on complementary health approaches for conditions common among older adults by visiting the Research page on the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) Web site.