U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) describes a wide range of health care practices, therapies, and products that are not considered to be part of conventional Western medicine. Complementary interventions are used together with conventional treatments, while alternative interventions are used in place of those treatments. Both can be used to improve health and well-being, to relieve symptoms associated with illness, and to relieve side effects from conventional treatments.

In 2007, 63.8 percent of women reported having ever prayed for their own health. The second most commonlyreported CAM therapy was the use of herbal supplements (27.2 percent), followed by chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation (24.2 percent) and massage (20.0 percent). Use of CAM therapies varied by race and ethnicity: non-Hispanic Black women were more likely than women of other races to have ever prayed for their own health (80.5 percent), while non-Hispanic White women were the most likely to utilize massage (23.7 percent), deep breathing (21.8 percent), and homeopathic treatment (5.3 percent). Non-Hispanic Asian women were most likely to have used yoga (18.7 percent) and acupuncture (14.2 percent) as a complementary or alternative treatment.

Bar graph: Selected Complementary and Alternative Medicines Used by Women [D]

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