Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Health Management

First Advisor

Betty LeMasters

Second Advisor

Rita Kottmeyer

Third Advisor

Patrick Akers


This thesis will discuss the role of alternative medicine in the United States. It will look at the history of various forms of medicine, the evolution of these practices, as well as their current role in our society.

With rising health care costs and the failure of mainstream medicine to cure diseases such as cancer and HIV, it becomes all the more important to look beyond the traditional system.

One in three people surveyed, reported using at least one form of unconventional medicine in 1990. This is a significant figure. There are very few studies currently available that focus on the use of alternative therapies. In fact, only one study was found to be significant enough to be used in this discussion.

It is obvious that people are experimenting with alternative medicine, yet little is known about some of these therapies, and the extent to which people are using them. More studies are needed, and this has not gone unnoticed by the federal government who recently funded the Office for the Study of Alternative Practices.

This paper will discuss the mainstreaming of alternative medicine in the United States. Will these therapies become mainstream medical practices, remain on the fringe of medicine, or be incorporated into orthodox practices? The obstacles and opportunities will also be discussed, as well as the shifting paradigm of the overall health care system.

It would be very difficult to look at all of the alternative therapies currently available so only a handful of them were chosen for this paper. The ones selected are perhaps more accessible and currently popular. They are either close to becoming mainstream medical practices or are growing very quickly and significantly.