The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States

The Use of
Complementary
and Alternative Medicine
in the United States
About CAM
CAM is a group of diverse medical and
health care systems, practices, and prod-
ucts that are not generally considered part
of conventional medicine.
Complementary
medicine
is used together with conven-
tional medicine, and
alternative medicine
is used in place of conventional medicine.
Integrative medicine
combines conven-
tional and CAM treatments for which there
is evidence of safety and effectiveness.
While scientific evidence exists regarding
some CAM therapies, for most there are
key questions that are yet to be answered
through well-designed scientific studies—
questions such as whether these therapies
are safe and whether they work for the
purposes for which they are used. NCCAM’s
mission is to explore CAM practices using
rigorous scientific methods and build an
evidence base for the safety and effective-
ness of these practices.
How Many People Use CAM
In the United States, approximately
38 percent of adults (about 4 in 10) and
approximately 12 percent of children
(about 1 in 9) are using some form of
CAM, shown in figure 1.
1
Unless noted otherwise, the statistics are for CAM use during the 12 months prior to the 2007 survey.

In December 2008, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
(NCCAM) and the National Center for Health Statistics (part of the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention) released new findings on Americans’ use of complementary
and alternative medicine (CAM). The findings are from the 2007 National Health
Interview Survey (NHIS), an annual in-person survey of Americans regarding their
health- and illness-related experiences. The CAM section gathered information on
23,393 adults aged 18 years or older and 9,417 children aged 17 years and under. A
similar CAM section was included in the 2002 NHIS, providing the opportunity to
examine trends in CAM use, too.

About CAM
CAM is a group of diverse medical and
health care systems, practices, and prod-
ucts that are not generally considered part
of conventional medicine.
Complementary
medicine
is used together with conven-
tional medicine, and
alternative medicine
is used in place of conventional medicine.
Integrative medicine
combines conven-
tional and CAM treatments for which there
is evidence of safety and effectiveness.
While scientific evidence exists regarding
some CAM therapies, for most there are
key questions that are yet to be answered
through well-designed scientific studies—
questions such as whether these therapies
are safe and whether they work for the
purposes for which they are used. NCCAM’s
mission is to explore CAM practices using
rigorous scientific methods and build an
evidence base for the safety and effective-
ness of these practices.
How Many People Use CAM
In the United States, approximately
38 percent of adults (about 4 in 10) and
approximately 12 percent of children
(about 1 in 9) are using some form of
CAM,

Who Uses CAM Most
People of all backgrounds use CAM. However, CAM use among
adults is greater among women and those with higher levels of
education and higher incomes. Figure 2 shows the percentage
of people using CAM by age. Figure 3 shows CAM use by
race/ethnicity.
CAM Therapies Used the Most
Nonvitamin, nonmineral natural products are the most commonly
used CAM therapy among adults. Use has increased for several
therapies, including deep breathing exercises, meditation, massage
therapy, and yoga. Figure 4 shows the percentage of people using
the most common CAM therapies and therapies with significant
increases between 2002 and 2007.
Use of Natural Products
The most popular natural products are fish oil/omega 3, glucosamine,
echinacea, and flaxseed. Figure 5 ranks the top 10 natural products
used among adults in 2007 and 2002 (note that the 2007 survey
asked about use in the last 30 days, whereas the 2002 survey asked
about use in the last year).
Health Conditions Prompting CAM Use
People use CAM for an array of diseases and conditions. American
adults are most likely to use CAM for musculoskeletal problems
such as back, neck, or joint pain. The use of CAM therapies for
head or chest colds showed a substantial decrease from 2002 too
CAM Use Among Children
The 2007 NHIS asked selected adult respondents about CAM
use by children in their households. Overall, approximately
12 percent of children use some form of CAM. Use is greater
among:
• Children whose parents used CAM (23.9%)
• Adolescents aged 12-17 (16.4%), compared to
younger children
• White children (12.8%), compared to Hispanic
children (7.9%) and black children (5.9%)
• Children whose parents had higher education
levels (more than high school: 14.7%)
• Children with six or more health conditions (23.8%)
• Children whose families delayed conventional care
because of cost (16.9%)
Figures 7-9 show survey findings on CAM use by
children, including top therapies, natural products, and
diseases/conditions.
About NCCAM
NCCAM’s mission is to explore complementary and alternative healing
practices in the context of rigorous science, train CAM researchers, and
disseminate authoritative information to the public and professionals.
To Obtain the Report
The report’s citation is Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin R.
CDC National Health
Statistics Report #12
. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among
Adults and Children: United States, 2007. December 2008. It is available,
along with a press release and graphics, at nccam.nih.gov/news/camstats.htm.
People who do not have access to the Internet can contact the NCCAM
Clearinghouse (see below) for a copy.
FOR MORe INFORMATION
NCCAM Clearinghouse
The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on CAM and NCCAM,
including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and
medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice,
treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.
Toll-free in the U.S.: 1-888-644-6226
TTY (for deaf and hard-of-hearing callers): 1-866-464-3615
Web site: nccam.nih.gov E-mail: info@nccam.nih.gov

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *