Americans Spend Over $30 Billion On Alternative Medicine Each Year

Photographed by Jessica Nash.
Alternative healing methods like herbal supplements, acupuncture, and meditation are often looked down upon in the U.S. as hokey and unscientific. Yet someone's got to be using them, because they cost Americans $30.2 billion a year. That constitutes 9.2% of Americans' out-of-pocket spending, according to a CDC/NCCIH report obtained by Healthcare Finance News.

And that's not just coming from a wealthy minority: 60 million Americans pay for some form of alternative medicine each year, Time reports on the same study. Even families with an income under $25,000 spend $435 per year on these treatments, on average.

The study didn't go into exactly how much people spend on what. But the remedies covered included massages, hypnosis, spiritual therapies, and naturopathic medicine. Another one was homeopathy, which is said to be a way to treat illnesses using highly diluted compounds and is mostly ineffective outside of a placebo effect.

Whether it works or not, people are willing to dole out a large chunk of money for this stuff, which suggests there's something Americans need that Western medicine isn't providing.