Acupuncture Today

The National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine was created in 1998 to explore healing practices in the context of rigorous science; to support “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” (CAM) researchers and to disseminate information to the public and professionals. Congress appropriated a budget of $117,752,000 in 2005.

The Institute of Medicine, a division of the National Academy of Science, released a report titled “CAM in the United States” (2005). The report includes research, statistics, and analysis of CAM, including the prevalence of CAM in the U.S. It found that:

  • CAM use was up from 34% to 42% between 1990-97.
  • The prevalence of vitamin, mineral, and herbal product use has increased in the United States. Dietary supplements are a major industry, responsible for $18.7 billion in sales in 2002.
  • The use of herbal remedies increased by 380%.
  • More than 1/3 of American adults routinely use CAM, spending more than $30 billion a year of their own money.
  • 75% of adults have used CAM at some time and that 62% had used some form of CAM therapy in the year 2004.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states: “The data in support of acupuncture are as strong as those for many accepted Western medical therapies. One of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other medical procedures used for the same conditions.” NIH Consensus p9

According to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey–the largest and most comprehensive survey of CAM use by American adults to date–an estimated 8.2 million U.S. adults had ever used acupuncture, and an estimated 2.1 million U.S. adults had used acupuncture in the previous year.

The aging of 78 million baby boomers will create numerous opportunities for CAM practitioners. Americans over 65 currently comprise 12 percent of the population; by 2050, they will make up 21 percent. More integral medicine practitioners who can respond to problems of aging are needed due to this trend.