2002 graph created by NCCAM.2002 graph created by NCCAM.
Time 2004-2005
Title The NCCAM reports that 36% of U.S. adults use complementary and alternative medicine
Event The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) reports that 36 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 years and over use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). When prayer (specifically for health reasons) is included in the definition of CAM, the number of U.S. adults using CAM in the past year rises to 62 percent.

The survey includes questions on 27 types of commonly used CAM therapies. Many of these questions focus on the mind, including meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and prayer. Prayer is the most popular form of therapy. 43% pray for their own health, while 24.4% have others praying for them. Deep breathing exercises are done by 11.6% of participants. 7.6% have meditated in the past year. 5.1% have done yoga.

Many of the survey questions focus on body-based therapies. These include acupuncture, chiropractic, natural products (such as herbs, other botanicals, and enzymes), massage, and diet-based therapies (such as Atkins, Pritikin, Ornish, and Zone diets). Natural products are used by 19% of adults. 7.5% use chiropractic care. 5% use massage therapy. And, 4.5% have used diet-based therapies.

Inclusion of spiritual practices (such as prayer) in a government report is a major acknowledgement of their possible role in health and healing. Questions are posed on the use of prayer to improve one’s own health as well as the health of others, and participation in formal prayer groups. Prayer for one’s own health was cited as the most popular form of therapy. In NCCAM’s winter 2005 quarterly newsletter, Stephen E. Straus, M.D., Director of NCCAM, said, "Prayer and spirituality for the benefit of health are relied upon by many Americans. NCCAM seeks to develop strategies to bring the most rigorous and detailed scientific approaches to studying these and other CAM practices so that we can understand the health impact that these practices might have."

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