While overall adoption of meditation and yoga in the U.S. substantially grew between 2012 and 2017, many more women than men use these holistic medicine approaches.

In 2017, 14.3% of American adults 18 and over did yoga, 14.2% meditated, and 10.3% saw a chiropractor. Use of meditation grew over 300% over the five years, and use of yoga by 50%. Using a chiropractor marginally rose by 10%.

The growth of complementary and alternative medicine (aka holistic medicine) is tracked by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control. These data come out of the NCHS’s Data Brief, Use of Yoga, Meditation, and Chiropractors Among U.S. Adults Aged 18 and Over, published in November 2018.

There’s a real Mars vs. Venus difference between men and women when it comes to yoga. One in five women do yoga in America. That’s more than twice as many women than men.

And nearly 50% more women meditate compared with men: 16.3% of women versus 11.8% of men.

Marginally more women visit chiropractors, as well (11.1% vs. 9.4%).

While more younger adults age 18 to 44 years of age do yoga, more middle-aged Americans meditate and see chiropractors.

There are also marked differences across race and ethnicity for holistic approaches to health: more Non-Hispanic white people do yoga, meditate, and visit chiropractors. The biggest chasm here is in the use of chiropractic among Non-Hispanic whites: 12.7% use chiropractors, compared with only 5.5^ of Non-Hispanic black people and 6.6% of Hispanic people.

Yoga, too, has many more adherents who are Non-Hispanic whites (17.1%) versus 9.3% people who are black or Hispanic.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  As U.S. patients continue to morph into health care payors, people seek to engage in their health on their own terms. Self-care has always taken on personal forms, from using over-the-counter medicines purchased at retail pharmacies to bringing Grandma’s kitchen table wisdom into home care via slow cooking salty hot broths which cross all cultures. [Here in Health Populi, I wrote about Moms as a crucial social determinant of health, mentioning the healing power of chicken soup].

The use of meditation and yoga in health is now prescribed by many physicians. Headspace is a well-adopted app for meditation, getting traction in healthcare with research partners at Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, and Kaiser Permanente who are studying the app to collect data for FDA scrutiny. Headspace Health launched in June 2018 as a digital health company to build the evidence-based for mainstream healthcare adoption.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has compiled some resources on the evidence base for the practice for many medical issues such as cancer, heart disease, respiratory conditions, menopause, gut health, MS, and pain, among others.

These alternative medicine approaches are also growing in wellness tourism, as more people feel the real negative health impacts of stress. The Global Wellness Institute has documented this rising travel trend, and Skift, the hospitality and travel portal, recently launched a wellness title among its newsletters. Expect these segments to grow in consumer adoption for both wellness and medical applications, among women and men, and older people as evidence grows for their use in healthcare.