This Trend Can Be a Friend to Your Health
If you have not used some sort of alternative or complementary medicine (CAM) in past few years, consider yourself part of a minority. According to the Fraser Institute, 79 percent of Canadians (in 2016) reported using at least one form of CAM, such as chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture or naturopathy, or taken some form of vitamin or herbal therapy at some time in their lives. This number is trending upward in the last nearly 20 years, as the number of Canadians admitting to using alternative therapies was reported to be at 73% in 1997.
While an extra 6 percent doesn’t sound like much of an increase, it actually equates to an increase of over 2 million Canadians utilizing non-tradition means in an attempt to improve their health. In a 12-month period from 2015 to 2016, Canadians spent approximately $8.8 billion on CAM, with the majority of that money spent on providers.
Here are 5 reasons why I believe CAM use in Canada is trending upwards, and will likely continue this way:
1. Faster access than seeing family physicians. Up to 15 percent of Canadians do not have a regular family medical doctor and too often, Canadians who do have a doctor, find it difficult to see him or her in timely fashion. Patients often will seek alternatives to traditional medicine if they can be seen sooner.
2. Work benefits include many CAM therapies. Insurance companies and employers are offering benefits packages to their employees that have coverage for visits to chiropractors, massage therapist, naturopathic doctors and acupuncturists.
3. Many patients may be wary about medications and their potential side-effects. While the medical system has been trying to reduce Canadians’ dependency on potentially dangerous medications, there still exists an opioid crisis in Canada. CAM offers scientifically validated alternatives for pain management. These evidence-supported alternatives are often more effective and safer than prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
4. Positive influence of internet and social media. In our clinic we ask our new patients how they found out about us and why they chose chiropractic. Many indicate they were positively influenced by their Google searches for alternatives to traditional medicine.
5. Medical doctors are referring more of their patients for CAM therapy. It was not terribly long ago that the American Medical Association (AMA) lost an anti-trust lawsuit claiming that they were attempting to undermine and possibly destroy the chiropractic profession. In 1987, a US Federal judge ruled that the AMA acted unfairly in preventing its members from recommending chiropractic services. Today, many chiropractors are engaged in multi-disciplinary health teams where medical doctors and chiropractors work alongside each other for the benefit of the patient. Chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists are included in the referral network of many Canadian family doctors.
There is a phrase often used in the world of investing, “The trend is your friend…”. In the realm of health care and health promotion, with the direction that CAM is taking, alternative therapies may not be considered so “alternative” anymore.