Inhale the future, exhale the past….
So goes a saying in yoga, which means to embrace the present and what’s about to come, and leave the past behind and every baggage that came with it. It goes without saying that Yoga has widely come to be integrated into many a person’s daily routine, crossing the boundaries of both region, and religion. However, it is not only yoga that has captured the attention of the global citizen. Tai-chi, homeopathy, Ayurveda and reiki are some of the other phenomenon that have caught the world by storm. Exactly what are they, and how have they managed to convince people to practice them?
To answer simply, they are all forms that come under the concept of Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM). The next question would be, what exactly is this ‘CAM’? Simply put, complementary and alternative treatment include a number of traditional medicinal treatments where a disease is attended to with the help of organic products, natural methods, and faith healing. They are generally used in the treatment of chronic ailments and pains.
CAM - On A Blazing Trail…
Most prominent forms of complementary and alternative medicine in usage include application of ayurvedic medicine and naturopathic treatment, acupuncture, mind/body healing, yoga and magnetic intervention. Ayurveda and Naturopathic treatment involves usage of nature derived products that are believed to possess therapeutic properties for various medical conditions. Although the various forms of alternative medicine seem to be viable treatment options, they seldom have any documented and/or approved backing from any clinical data, and work on word-of-mouth and personal faith.
The complementary and alternative medicine market has been classified according to the medium of their application, that is, whether they are traditionally used, or body healing, external energy, mind healing, or through the use of diet and herbs. Another form of treatment is through the senses.
Traditional complementary and alternative medicine - Includes therapies and practices that have been practiced for centuries, and are more mainstream as compared to other CAM types. Examples are acupuncture, Ayurveda, homeopathy, naturopathy, and Chinese or Oriental medicine.
Body healing - Is based on the idea that injury or illness in one area of the body adversely affects other bodily functions. Steps involve the use of manual manipulation so that the other body parts can be brought back to their normal functioning, which would allow full focus on the actual site of injury or illness. Often, body healing techniques are combined with those of the mind. Examples of this type include massage, tai chi, yoga, body movement therapies, and chiropractic & osteopathic medicine.
Diets and herbs - Today’s society is plagued with health issues on account of the shift towards food substances that are rich in oils, fats and complex carbohydrates. Previously, a person’s diet simply consisted of fruits, meat, vegetables and grains, which provided high nutritional value to the body. That is why this complementary and alternative medicine technique is making a big return, especially among the current working population who really need to maintain their physique and health. The approach includes herbal medicines, dietary supplements and nutrition/diet.
External Energy - It is an age-old ad popular belief that external energies from various sources have a direct bearing on a person’s health. Techniques such as electromagnetic therapy, Reiki and Qigong help in quietening the mind and removing and releasing the blocked energies, thus helping the body, mind and spirit to reach balance and harmony.
Mind - A healthy mind resides in a healthy body, it is said. There’s no better way to put forth the dependence that one has on other. This is even recognized by conventional science, and studies have proved that the healing process is faster and smoother if a person has positive emotional and mental health. Meditation, biofeedback and hypnosis are some of the techniques that are involved in the exercise of the mind.
Senses - A relatively different approach in the complementary and alternative medicine market that makes use of art, dance and music forms, as well as visualization and guided imagery, to improve overall health. This technique makes use of the five human senses of touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell.
Alternative Medicine and Advancements
These treatment forms have a history that dates a long way back into time and a number of them have documented origins in key Asia Pacific countries like India, China, and Japan. The techniques were limited to Asian countries for a considerable amount of time; however, they have rapidly gained popularity almost all over the world. Earlier, the practitioners of complementary and alternative medicines were considered as quacks; however, now it is rapidly being recognized across the globe as a genuine practice, with licensing being applied in this space.
A study by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the NCCIH in 2017 found that in the United States:
Adults showed an increase in the usage of complementary health practices, when compared to 2017.
Yoga, meditation and chiropractor visits all witnessed a rise in these five years, with meditation showing a three-fold increase from 4.1% in 2012 to 14.2% in 2017.
Gender-wise, all of these alternative complementary and alternative medicine approaches have seen a higher acceptance in the female population of the country, with yoga showing the highest disparity in terms of percentage adoption in males and females (8.6% for males vs. 19.8% for females).
Alternative medicines have seen both support and opposition in every country. Several governments are taking steps to introduce alternative medicine as legal form to improve lives of people. For instance, the government of India launched the “AYUSH” ministry in 2014 that is expected to support and develop alternative forms of medicine and improve the medical tourism in the field of alternative medicine. The department saw huge allocation of funds in the 2017-18 budget, to the tune of ₹ 1428.7 crore. Several scientific bodies are striving to develop scientific support for the claims made by naturalists and followers claiming the medical effects of complementary and alternative medicine.
There have also been many incidents where complementary and alternative medicine practices have been used illegally, as in a recent case of a practitioner in the U.S. state of Virginia who was caught practicing without a license, leading to him being sentenced to 12 months in jail. Also, with the growing threat of coronavirus, there has been a boom in the number of false claims about alternative medicines helping in combating the virus without any substantiated proof, which is harming the image of genuine complementary and alternative medicine practices.
Complementary And Alternative Medicine: Market Snapshot
A recent report by Grand View Research has projected the complementary and alternative medicine market to be worth USD 296.3 billion by 2027, progressing at an astonishing CAGR of almost 20%. The key drivers impacting the growth of this industry include:
Increasing adoption of alternative medicine across developing countries
China and India have heavily contributed to the growth of the Asia Pacific region, and are expected to continue generating major revenue
A rapid rise in the number of trained physicians in complementary and alternative medicine space is expected to shift patient preference towards these forms of treatment
Integration of technological advancements
Government initiatives to improve and provide scientific back-up
We have segmented the Complementary And Alternative Medicine market based on intervention type for which it is used:
Botanicals (Ayurveda, Naturopathy and Homeopathy), Acupuncture, Mind, Body & Yoga and Magnetic Intervention. Botanicals held a significant share in 2019 and are likely to grow at a steady CAGR over the forecast years, while magnetic intervention has been projected to show fastest growth through 2027.
The market is also segmented on the basis of distribution channels, into direct sales, e-sales and distance correspondence, wherein direct sales have dominated with almost three-quarters of the market share.
Some of the major complementary and alternative medicine market players include Nordic Nutraceuticals, Columbia Nutritional, Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, Herb Pharm, John Schumacher Unity Woods Yoga Centre, Pure Encapsulations, LLC., The Healing Company Ltd, AYUSH Ayurvedic Pte Ltd, and Sheng Chang Pharmaceutical Company.
The U.S. state of Los Angeles saw a listing platform called “WellSet” being launched in March 2020, which caters to the alternative and holistic healthcare market. The service makes it easy for customers to find acupuncturists, therapists, nutritionists, life coaches and the likes for their line of complementary and alternative medicine treatment.
In-depth report on global complementary alternative medicine market by Grand View Research:
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