Results from the recently-released National Health Interview Survey show that Americans are using complementary and alternative medicine with increasing frequency.

According to the survey, Americans spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket on CAM each year. CAM includes such things as acupuncture, biofeedback and neurofeedback, chiropractic, herbal supplements, meditation, and various forms of relaxation therapy that are not routinely considered to be part of conventional medicine.

Currently, CAM accounts for approximately 11.2 percent of total out-of-pocket expenditures (conventional out-of-pocket: $286.6 billion and CAM out-of-pocket: $33.9 billion) on health care in the United States each year.

The survey found that approximately 38 percent of adults use some form of CAM every year and spent approximately $12 billion on an estimated 354 million yearly visits to CAM practitioners such as acupuncture therapists, biofeedback and neurofeedback trainers, chiropractors and massage therapists.

In comparison to the last time this data was collected in 2002, the number of adults using CAM mind-body therapies has increased.

Biofeedback, guided imagery, meditation, deep breathing exercises and yoga all saw increased usage; there were no changes in the frequency of use of hypnosis and Qi gong; and there were decreases in the use of progressive muscle relaxation, tai chi, and, especially, energy healing therapies.

The data paints a clear picture that Americans are turning to CAM — and psychophysiological interventions (i.e., treatments that affect both the mind and the body such as biofeedback and various forms of relaxation therapies)— as an adjunct or alternative to traditional medical care.

Source: Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB)