A national health survey conducted in 2007 by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has found that Americans spend $34 billion on alternative medicines annually. This figure is more than what they spend on prescription drugs.
"The bottom line is that Americans spend a lot of money on CAM products, classes, materials and practitioner visits," National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Director Josephine P. Briggs, MD, said. "We estimate that this (represents) approximately 11% of the total out-of-pocket spending on health care."
The survey also found that out of pocket expenses for complementary and alternative medicines were 1.5% of the $2.2 trillion spent on healthcare that year.
However CAM practitioners saw a big drop in the number of patients they saw. One exception was acupuncture where patients increased in number as compared to 1997.
"The increase for acupuncture may be in part due to the greater number of states that license this practice and a corresponding increase in the number of licensed practitioners in 2007, compared with 1997, as well as increased insurance coverage for these therapies," the report added.