Researchers at Harvard Medical School have looked at the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in over 2000 people. They find that the use of 20 therapies - from acupuncture to yoga - has increased in popularity since the 1960s. A new survey reveals that complementary and alternative medicine has always been popular, although the type of therapies used has changed over the years.
The greatest increase in popularity was in the transition from the 1960s to the 1970s. Seven out of ten of those born between 1965 and 1979 had used CAM, compared to five out of ten of those born between 1945 and 1964. And only three out of 10 of those born pre-1945 had ever used CAM.
But when people had tried a therapy, they tended to stay with it. Almost 50 per cent were still using the therapy 11 to 20 years on. There were, however, some dramatic shifts in the popularity of various therapies. In the 1960s, diet-based programmes and self-help were in the ascendant, in the '70s it was biofeedback, energy healing and herbs. The '80s showed an increase in massage and naturopathy, while in the '90s, aromatherapy, herbs, massage, energy healing and yoga were most popular.
Who knows what will be in vogue in the first decade of the 21st century? One thing's for sure - complementary therapies are here to stay.