To its detractors, "complementary and alternative medicine" (often abbreviated as CAM) is just one cut above witchdoctory. Nonetheless, 38 percent of U.S. adults use some sort of it, according to a report issued last month by the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Drawing on data from household interviews conducted the previous year, the report says women are more likely than men to use CAM (43 percent vs. 34 percent).
The most popular CAM therapies (engaged in by 18 percent of adults) fall into the category of "nonvitamin, nonmineral natural products." The most popular of these, says the report, are fish oil/omega 3/DHA, glucosamine, echinacea and flaxseed oil or pills. Other leading CAM therapies include deep breathing (13 percent of adults), meditation (9 percent), chiropractic or osteopathic (9 percent), massage (8 percent) and yoga (6 percent).