- Nov. 25, 2020
-- Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) includes a diverse range (https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/
medicine) of therapies, practices, and products, like acupuncture, chiropractic medicine, and herbal medicine. What unites them and what defines CAM (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
PMC3068720/) is simply that they are not currently considered conventional medicine.
CAM use is growing (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
PMC3068720/). About half the general population in developed countries uses it. But skeptics point to the lack of research and proven efficacy of treatments in clinical trial settings as key problems. They also argue that placebo effects and people's ability to self-administer some of these treatments may lead people away from scientifically-
As practices become more mainstream, prejudice may lessen. However, with influxes of users, practices can become diluted. Wellness culture, on the surface, promotes a balanced, holistic approach to health making it the perfect proponent of CAM. But it is now associated with carefully curated, aesthetically pleasing brands.
The wellness market is flooded with these celebrity-backed brands. While some may have a vested interest in the practices, there's no denying money is part of the appeal. The global wellness economy is valued at $4.5 trillion (https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/press-room/statistics...
), and CAM accounts for $360 billion of that.
One company that's earned a lot of attention is goop. Started in 2008 by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, the lifestyle and wellness brand is worth $250 million (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/25/magazine/big-business-...
). It has articles on the benefits of herbal pairings, overcoming first-time acupuncture nerves, and a wellness gift guide (https://shop.goop.com/
USA) complete with a 30-day supply of goop brand immune-boosting elderberry chews for $55. While it may seem like the website endorses CAM practices, it actually promotes a specific, expensive version of wellness using CAM.
Although the use of CAM has increased, there is an expanding gap (https://www.webmd.com/
the-rise) "in the rate of CAM use between non-Hispanic whites and African American and Hispanic populations. Whites are more than twice as likely to see a CAM provider." Asians use CAM slightly less than whites. When the face of the company is a wealthy, white, Hollywood-elite, only so many people can see themselves stepping into the life portrayed. By making wellness exclusive and exclusionary, these brands give CAM a bad reputation by association.
Another problem: "'Sometimes Western people take what they think is something powerful used in the Indigenous world, say a plant, an herb, a tea," says Margaret P. Moss Ph.D., R.N., director of First Nations House of Learning and an associate professor in the school of nursing at the University of British Columbia, 'without taking the whole system (https://www.marieclaire.com/
that came with it, that made it work.'"
CAM has real potential to help people. Those that want more autonomy or those with chronic conditions can find real relief. Furthermore, "as long as alternative treatments are used alongside conventional treatments, the majority of medical doctors (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
PMC3068720/) find most forms of complementary medicine acceptable."