The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches by the public is rapidly growing. Studies have shown:

  • The public tends to choose CAM practitioners and products more often than traditional physicians and therapies when they have chronic pain (52 percent versus 34 percent), headaches (51 percent versus 19 percent), depression (34 percent versus 25 percent), anxiety (42 percent versus 13 percent) and insomnia (32 percent versus 16 percent).

  • People with serious and debilitating medical conditions--such as cancer, chronic pain and HIV--tend to use CAM practices the most. Therapies include nutritional supplements, herbs and massage.

  • Dietary supplement sales totaled $17 billion in 2000, and more than 158 million consumers used them.

  • In 2000, nearly 16 percent of the nation's community hospitals offered CAM services, up from 11 percent in 1999.

Further Reading

Source: White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy final report, March 2002