Nutrition Business Journal estimates 1999 2010 doubling of integrative practitioner service revenues plus supplement sales to $50 billion Most years the Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), the supplement industry’s pricey monthly ($1,195 year), focuses an issue on the business of integrative

Nutrition Business Journal estimates 1999-2010 doubling of integrative practitioner service revenues plus supplement sales to $50-billion

Most years the Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), the supplement industry’s pricey monthly ($1,195/year), focuses an issue on the business of integrative medicine and the practitioner marketplace. The moist recent iteration, the November-December 2010 issue of the 48 page resource, opens with a chart that estimates that integrative medicine services and revenues are 2% of the $2.5 trillion in national healthcare expenditures. NBJ estimates a doubling in integrative practitioner service and supplement revenues from roughly $25 billion to nearly $50-billion from 1999-2010. A chart on page 3 estimates these revenues by practitioner type; the following pages offer brief synopses on 11 different categories. A sampling is below.



NBJ’s Estimated Integrative Practitioner Service Revenuesand Supplement Sales in 2009 


 Practitioner Types 

   IM Service  


    Supp. Mkt 


 $18, 010



Traditional Chinese Medicine








Massage Therapy








(Integrative) MDs













* Chart is only part of that published and does not include all categories
so figures do not add up to 100%.

Source: Nutrition Business Journal, Volume 15, No. 11/12; Nov-Dec 2010; page 3.


Comment: I have had the pleasure a few times in the past decade to be interviewed for this issue. I subsequently always look forward to comped copy that comes in the mail. The examination of integrative practices as a market for the supplement industry always yields interesting information. I also have come to know that something will make me wonder how did they come up with that?  For instance, how does one split “TCM” from “acupuncture” and then count each as 35,000 or so practitioners? (The national organizations representing licensed acupuncturists will tell your there are roughly 25,000 licensed practitioners with another 8,000 in the pipeline, and there represent the lion’s share of “TCM” practitioners.) The 31,000 figure for the naturopathic doctors, a field with less than 5,000 licensed practitioners, must be a result of including those who use that title but likely purchased mail order degrees and only offer services in states without licenses – where they could still be selling a good deal of product. Still, the desire to see this kind of information about the “practitioner market” quantified in simple columns makes this issue always an interesting read, and illuminating, even if buyer beware is the operative note. Single issues are available. 303-998-9263. Among the others interviewed are Penny George, co-founder of the Bravewell Collaborative, NIH NCCAM director Josephine Briggs, MD, Mimi Guarneri, MD with the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine. 

Netherlands study concludes that patients of integrative MDs have lower costs

A study from the Netherlands entitled Patients Whose GP Knows Complementary Medicine Have Lower Costs and Live Longer was reported in mid-2010 by researchers Peter Kooreman and Erik Baars. The abstract follows:

“A small fraction of general practitioners (GPs) in the Netherlands has completed additional training in complementary medicine after obtaining their conventional medical degree. Using a data set from a health insurer, this paper documents that patients whose GP has additional training in anthroposophic medicine, homeopathy, or acupuncture have substantially lower health care costs and lower mortality rates. The lower costs result from fewer hospital stays and fewer prescription drugs. Since the differences remain once we control for neighborhood specific fixed effects at a highly detailed level, the lower costs and longer lives are unlikely to be related to differences in socio-economic status. Possible explanations are selection (e.g. people with a low taste for medical interventions might be more likely to choose CAM) and better practices (e.g. less overtreatment, more focus on preventive and curative health promotion) by GPs with knowledge of complementary medicine.”

The data reported projects various ranges of savings by population and practitioner type. For instance, patients 75 and older seeing a doctor with anthroposophical training spend over 1000 Euros less per year on health care. Over all, costs are roughly 7% less for patients of general practitioners with CAM practices, compared with those practicing conventionally, or 170 Euros per person per year. The overall conclusion: “The results provide strong evidence of substantially lower costs for general practitioners who have additional training in complementary medicine.”

Comment: This is an interesting example of a “disciplines research” project, a kind of evaluation noted below in the discussion of the 2011-2015 NCCAM Strategic Plan. We need to see more of this in the States. 

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