Complementary and Alternative Medicine: The “Hidden Mainstream” of American Medicine

15 Oct Complementary and Alternative Medicine: The “Hidden Mainstream” of American Medicine

A recent National Health Interview Survey reports that in the past two years, 38% of Americans used Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). CAM can be defined as diverse medical and health care products, practices and systems that are not typically considered conventional medicine. National interest in complementary and alternative medicine is increasing.

The recent surge of interest in CAM has led to it being known as the “hidden mainstream” of American medicine. According to Center for Disease Control’s 2007 National Health Interview Survey, out of pocket expenditures on CAM were close to $34 billion. Of this, the most common CAM practices and products include natural products (17.7%), deep breathing exercises (12.7%), meditation (9.4%) chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation (8.6%), massage (8.3%), and yoga (6.1%).  More often than not, CAM is used in addition to conventional Western medicine. In the Journal of Clinical Psychology, Crystal Park suggests that the heightened interest in CAM is due to “greater awareness of the critical role that psychological distress plays in many medical conditions.”

Use of complementary and alternative medicine has important implications for healthcare stakeholders. Conventional care providers are responding to patient demand. Primary care physicians are integrating CAM into their business models as a source of cash to their business. This burst of interest has resulted in a critical need to better understand the CAM market, from public health and personal use perspectives.

Opus Ventures is a Portland, Maine-based venture capital fund that invests in start-ups and young businesses in the CAM industry. Opus Ventures combines the power of management consulting know-how with venture capital, enabling entrepreneurs to successfully launch their CAM-related services or products, from concept to market.

Works Cited

Myers, Lindsay. “Who Uses Complementary and Alternative Medicine?” 9 June 2014. Web. <>.

Passarelli, Tonya. “Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States.”Case Western Reserve University. 1 Apr. 2008. Web. <>.

Barnes, Patricia, and Richard Nahin. “Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults and Children: United States, 2007.” National Health Statistics Reports, 10 Dec. 2008. Web. <>.