Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is big business. Americans spent more than $30 billion on alternative therapies in 2012. That includes treatments such as homeopathy and acupuncture as well as supplements, yoga and meditation. 59 million Americans sought out some type of alternative therapy. Researchers found of the $30.2 billion, about $28 billion was spent on adults, compared to $1.9 billion for children. One out of five Americans spent money on at least one type of alternative therapy, which could include practices such as Ayurveda, biofeedback, chelation therapy, chiropractic manipulation, energy healing therapy, tai chi, hypnosis, naturopathy, progressive relaxation and massage therapy. Despite the lack of data confirming the therapeutic benefits, the alternative medicine industry is continuing to grow in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.
Overall, spending on alternative remedies amounted to just around 9 percent of out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures. But the report found that Americans with lower incomes were shelling out more of their income proportionally than their more affluent peers. Families making less than $25,000 per year spent around $314 per person on complementary medicine and $389 per person on natural supplements. Families earning more than $100,000 per year spent an average of $518 per person on alternative treatments and $377 each on supplements.