3 Main Reasons CAM Is Rising in Popularity

Many treatments fall under the umbrella of Complementary and Alternative Medicine or CAM. Some of the most commonly used CAM therapies include:

The conditions and diseases CAM can help address are as varied as the therapies mentioned. Almost anything that someone would see a doctor for, they can see a CAM practitioner for.

For example, CAM can help manage the following problems:

  • Acute conditions
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic diseases
  • Mood disorders
  • Pain
  • Sleep
  • Stress
  • Weight gain or loss

The Rise of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

A 2020 analysis found that 62.5 percent of breast cancer patients under 40 years old have been using some form of CAM. Moreover, a 2017 survey revealed that 31 percent of Portuguese men and women with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) were using a form of CAM.

Why More People Are Using CAM to Treat Cancer and Other Health Issues

According to a 2017 National Health Interview Survey, there has been a significant increase in the number of U.S. adults using yoga, meditation, and chiropractics over a five-year span.

There are many reasons why complementary and alternative medicine is popular today. These reasons include:

  1. Conventional treatments didn’t work

Tara Scott, M.D., medical director of integrative medicine at Summa Health Systems in Akron, OH, says that many of her patients with gastrointestinal problems turned against conventional methods because nothing helped to alleviate their symptoms. Their doctors would put them on medication and perform colonoscopies and endoscopies only to find no problems, but the symptoms — pain, in particular — persist.

In the absence of a medication that effectively relieves pain and other symptoms, many people turn to CAM approaches.

  1. A natural remedy

Though medications for physical and mental health problems can help people get back on their feet, some patients experience side effects from pharmaceutical drugs, including:

  • Changes in mood
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Fatigue
  • Lowered or complete loss of sex drive
  • Stomach problems
  • Unintended weight gain or loss

As such, more people are choosing natural treatments, such as yoga and meditation, to manage their symptoms and avoid the side effects associated with mainstream medicine.

  1. The search for an integrative approach

Even though treatments under CAM help reduce certain symptoms to the point where someone may no longer need any medication, CAM is not always a replacement for biomedicine. In some cases, biomedical treatments continue to be necessary, especially for serious conditions that may cause premature death without a stronger approach.

Instead of maintaining a divide, conventional healthcare workers and complementary and alternative medical practitioners should think of themselves as a team. Because while traditional treatments are strong and CAM modalities are, too, both sides of medicine can be stronger and more powerful together.

The Bottom Line

CAM is rising in popularity and there’s a compilation of strong evidence supporting its rightful place in healthcare. There are many motivating factors as to why people are turning to CAM, such as seeing no results with mainstream medicine, wanting to try a more natural approach, or the desire to include a combination of both sides of medicine in their healthcare, which may work wonders together than alone.