Natural Health Career Statistics

Learn About Complementary, Holistic Health and Alternative Medicine Careers

It is exciting to note the increasing acceptance and visibility of alternative medicine and complementary forms of healing.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH, formerly the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine [NCCAM]) defines alternative medicine as “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.”

Natural health degrees and holistic health careers have recently surged in response to society’s focus on improved quality of life and Western health care alternatives.

Here are some recent statistics that discuss the popularity of natural health degrees and careers:

  • In 2012, 33.2 percent of U.S. adults used complementary health approaches. This is similar to the percentages in 2007 (35.5 percent) and 2002 (32.3 percent).
  • Fish oil was the #1 natural product among adults, with 7.8 percent using it in 2012.
  • Nearly three fourths of U.S. medical schools offer elective courses in natural and alternative medicine or include it in required courses.
  • The percentage of adults who practice yoga has increased substantially, from 5.1 percent in 2002 to 6.1 percent in 2007 and 9.5 percent in 2012.
  • 56 percent of people have received a massage for one or more of the following reasons: Soreness, stiffness or spasms, to relieve or manage stress, for prevention or to improve quality of life, injury recovery or rehabilitation, to keep fit or healthy/maintain wellness, or to control headaches or migraines.

A 2014 report, which polled professionals and patients, and was developed by the American Massage Therapy Association notes the high acceptance of massage as a healing art in the U.S.:

92 percent agree that massage can be effective in reducing pain.


91 percent agree that massage can be beneficial to health and wellness.


74 percent of consumers agree that massage therapy should be considered a form of health care.


The vast majority of massage therapists (97 percent) have taken continuing education classes.


Nearly three-fourths of practitioners started practicing massage therapy as a second career.


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