It has become increasingly common for people to take a holistic approach to their healthcare. In fact, more than 38 percent of adults and 12 percent of children in the U.S. use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Although the two terms (“complementary” and “alternative”) are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Complementary medicine is used to describe a non-mainstream practice used in conjunction with a mainstream practice. Alternative medicine, on the other hand, is the replacement of a mainstream practice with a non-mainstream one.

Here are five other little known facts about CAM:

  • People from all backgrounds use it. Women with higher levels of education and income use CAM the most. However, people of every age, race and gender also practice it.

  • Fish oil is one of the most commonly used natural products. Glucosamine, Echinacea and flaxseed also claimed top spots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Statistics Report.   

  • It is not just about vitamins and minerals. People often think of supplements when they hear the words “alternative medicine.” However deep breathing, meditation, massage, and yoga are also increasingly popular CAM therapies.

  • Diet can be medicinal, too. The types of food we eat can affect how we feel and perform each day. That is why diet-based therapies, such as the Macrobiotic, Vegetarian and Zone diets, are considered part of a CAM approach.

  • It is used to treat conditions and disease. Back, neck and joint pain were the most common ailments that people treated with CAM therapies.  


Interested in learning more? Everglades University offers a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in alternative medicine. Find out how this degree can help you enter or advance your career in alternative medicine.