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CAM Complementary and Alternative Medicine

May 8, 2008

Thomas Edison once said, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” CAM appears to be the tip of a growing iceberg just beginning to jut up above water level. 

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Facts

  • More than 70% to 90% of physicians consider CAM therapies, such as diet and exercise, behavioral medicine, counseling and psychotherapy, and hypnotherapy, to be legitimate medical practices.1
  • Approximately 80% of medical students and 70% of family physicians are interested in receiving training in multiple areas of CAM therapies.1-3
  • In any given year, 69% of Americans use at least one type of CAM therapy.4
  • Due to high market demand, at least 67% of health insurers and HMOs, such as Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente, Mutual of Omaha, Prudential, California Pacific, Catholic HealthCare West, HealthNet, and Oxford Health Plans, cover CAM therapies.5,6

· Chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal therapies, and mind-body techniques, among other CAM therapies, are offered at 64% of U.S. medical schools.7

  • Approximately 57% of physicians have referred patients to CAM professionals.8
  • It has been shown that 56% of Americans believe their health plans should cover CAM therapies.4
  • Estimates place the size and value of the CAM market at $24 billion, a figure projected to increase at a rate of 15% per year.9
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) currently invests about $40 million per year in CAM-related research.10
  • Based on the popularity and growth of CAM therapies in the U.S., the American Medical Association (AMA) ranked alternative medicine among the top 3 subjects (out of 86) for mainstream medical journals to address in the coming years.11 In response, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a highly renowned medical journal, identified alternative medicine as the 7th (out of 73) most important topic for future publication.12
  • Chiropractors are licensed in all 50 states, and 12 states require that health plans include chiropractic benefits.13
  • There are nearly 40,000 doctors of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) throughout the country.14
  • Acupuncturists are licensed in 34 states.15
  • There are currently 21 schools in the U.S. that offer certification in homeopathic medicine.16
  • Naturopathic professionals are licensed in 12 states.17


  1. Berman BM, Singh BK, Lao L, et al. Physicians’ attitudes toward complementary or alternative medicine: a regional survey. J Am Board Fam Pract 1995;8(5):361-66.
  2. Halliday J, Taylor M, Jenkins A, et al. Medical students and complementary medicine. Comp Ther Med 1993;1:32-33.
  3. Furnham A, Hanna D, Vincent CA. Medical students’ attitudes to complementary medical therapies. Comp Ther Med 1995;3:212-19.
  4. Kessler W, Goodkind M. (1998, September 23). Americans mingle complementary techniques with traditional medicine. Stanford Online Report. Retrieved from
  5. Pelletier KR, Marie A, Krasner M, et al. Current trends in the integration and reimbursement of complementary and alternative medicine by managed care, insurance carriers, and hospital providers: 1998 update and cohort analysis. Am J Health Promot 1999;14(2):125-33.
  6. The Landmark Report II on HMOs and alternate care: 1999 nationwide HMO study of alternative care. (2000). Retrieved March 18, 2002, from
  7. Wetzel MS, Eisenberg DM, Kaptchuk TJ. Courses involving complementary and alternative medicine at U.S. medical schools. JAMA 1998;280(9):784-87.
  8. Blumberg DL, Grant WD, Hendricks SR, et al. The physician and unconventional medicine. Altern Ther Health Med 1995;1(3);31-35.
  9. Rauber C. Open to Alternatives. Mod Healthc 1998;28(36):50-57.
  10. Jonas WB. Researching alternative medicine. Nat Med 1997;3(8):824-27.
  11. Fontanarosa PB, Lundberg GD. Complementary, alternative, unconventional, and integrative medicine: call for papers for the annual coordinated theme issues of the AMA journals. JAMA 1997:(278):2111-12.
  12. Lundberg GD, Paul M, Fritz H. A comparison of the opinions of recognized experts and ordinary readers as to what topic a general medical journal should address. Presented at the International Congress on Biomedical Peer Review and Global Communications; September 20, 1997; Prague, Czech Republic.
  13. American Chiropractic Association. (2002). Retrieved March 18, 2002, from
  14. AOA-net. (2002). Retrieved March 18, 2002, from
  15. Leake R, Broderick JE. Current licensure for acupuncture in the United States. Altern Ther Health Med 1999;5(4):94-96.
  16. National Center for Homeopathy: Education directory. (2001, August 28). Retrieved March 18, 2002, from
  17. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2002, from­_questions

Meta-eHealth: Wellness Center

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 9, 2008 2:46 pm

    CAM is making progress but each success comes at a price. The loss of market share by doctors and pharmaceutical companies results in more aggressive legislative efforts to take away patient choice. Remember it was only 20 years ago that the federal courts had to protect chiropractors from the American Medical Association, and the battle continues today.

    CAM is growing more popular because it works. While difficult to classify since it ranges from 5,000-year-old acupuncture to therapies that may only be decades old, these treatments survive because they’re safe and effective. And people are deciding they want better health without prescription drugs.

    A good introduction to the world of hope and health called CAM is UnBreak Your Health.

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