Is organic broccoli alternative medicine?

I recently learned that in 2008, the National Center for Health Statistics (a division of the CDC) reported that nearly 4 out of 10 Americans had used Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) within the calendar year. Not bad.

Massage therapy, yoga, chiropractic work, and acupuncture (among many other therapies) all fit into the CAM category, but so does the use of “natural products.” So if you’re eating organic broccoli, does that make you a practitioner of alternative medicine?

Looking a little deeper, I found the list of natural products, and broccoli wasn’t on there, so I guess the answer is no. But things like fish oil, Echinacea, herb pills, garlic supplements, green tea pills, cranberry pills, milk thistle, and other fine whole food-sy stuff was, and in my opinion (hardly scientific, I’ll grant you) greatly skews the numbers – particularly as “natural products” tops the list when they ranked the use of CAM by the numbers. In 2007, the top 10 CAM therapies go like this:

1. Natural Products (17.7%)
2. Deep Breathing (12.7%)
3. Meditation (9.4%)
4. Chiropractic and Osteopathic (8..6%)
5. Massage (8.3%)
6. Yoga (6.1%)
7. Diet-based therapy (3.6%)
8. Progressive relaxation (2.9%)
9. Guided Imagery (2.2%)
10. Homeopathic treatment (1.8%)

I found it interesting that massage ranked above yoga, I would have guessed that to be the other way around. It was noted that massage use had increased rather dramatically in the five years of the study, and that in 2002 it ranked behind yoga. Another tidbit of info is that women were more likely to use CAM therapies than men. That isn’t too surprising, though I find that my own practice is split fairly evenly between male and female clients.

For any of you who want to check out the gritty details, the report is here. For any of you who want to help massage move up the list, you know where to find me.