Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu’s thoughts … COVID-19 could push herbal & alternative medicine’s market value to US$296.3bn by 2027


The medical industry post COVID-19 will not be the same. Herbal and alternative remedies have gained huge popularity amid this pandemic. The global complementary and alternative medicine market size is projected to reach US$296.3 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 19.9%, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc.

A comparatively high demand for alternative medicine across developing countries and expanding applications of traditional medicine practiced in Asia are two key driving factors of the market. China and India are the key contributors to the Asia Pacific region and thus are offering significant momentum to the revenue generation by complementary and alternative treatment through the study period.

In addition, increase in the number of licensed and trained physicians who can offer state-of-the-art complementary therapies is set to boost patient preference toward traditional medicine. It is becoming integral in the healthcare system in Asia, especially in China wherein most of the hospitals in the country have distinct departments and wards that are dedicated to traditional therapeutic approaches.

Moreover, in terms of research, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has reached a remunerative stage. This can be attributed to the rising pool of scientists working at established universities across U.S., Europe, and Asia Pacific who are focusing on building a robust foundation for the alternative treatment targeted toward Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and diabetes.

In 2019 for instance, the global complementary and alternative medicine market size was projected at US$69.2 billion in 2019, registering a CAGR of 19.9% over the forecast period. Yoga, meditation, magnetic intervention, acupuncture, and complementary wellness treatments are gaining immense popularity across developed countries. This can be attributed to wide acceptance of these alternative treatments among general population, further causing an upswing in the number of yoga studios, meditation centers, spas, and complementary wellness facilities.

Government initiatives play a pivotal role in boosting adoption of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). In addition, increased funding, establishing government facilities dedicated to complementary therapies, and the expensive nature of conventional treatment options are some of the secondary factors encouraging companies to invest in the market for complementary and alternative medicine.

Fig 1. Showing the market size in Australia

According to the report, regional government authorities and players are focusing on strengthening medical tourism associated with complementary and alternative medicine. Government authorities in India are heavily investing in the development and standardization of facilities pertaining complementary medicine in the recent years. For instance, Ministry of Ayush is set up by national authorities to govern research, development, education, and other facilities pertaining Ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy, and homeopathy.

Alternative medicine is expected to become more mainstream in the coming years, especially in the developed countries. This can be attributed to a new acceptance displayed by physicians and doctors in U.S. toward alternative philosophies and treatments that were conventionally excluded from mainstream medicine.

Advent of integrative medicine has proven to be profitable for propelling the penetration of complementary and alternative treatment. Professionals state that integrative medicine has the potential to address an array of patient’s influences, including environmental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.

Robust investments in this direction began in 2016 and have continued since then. For instance, Andrew Krupp, a late philanthropist granted approximately USD 30 million to the Center for Integrative Medicine, California for a research program. This program was designed to analyze the potential benefits of exercise, diet, and natural therapeutics in the treatment of various chronic ailments, such as cancer and heart disease.

Intervention Insights

Gradual expansion of alternative interventions, such as energy healing, is expected to drive the complementary and alternative medicine market. For instance, The Healing Company headquartered in England exhibits a diverse portfolio of complementary therapies, including reflexology, reiki, and havening techniques. Havening is a breakthrough complementary therapeutic approach developed to treat patients suffering from trauma and mental stress.

Furthermore, magnetic therapy is gaining significant traction among professionals operating in the field of traditional medicine. Still in its nascent stage, a few clinical trials have stated the potential benefits of magnetic field therapy in pain management, which is set to boost its penetration across medical settings. For instance, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, a research institution and cancer treatment center offers magnet therapy using different products, including Bioflex magnets, magnet therapy mattresses, and MagnaBloc.

Distribution method insights

The direct sales distribution segment is the largest contributor to the revenue generated by the global market for complementary and alternative medicine. This can be attributed to the fact that most frequently performed complementary and alternative therapies require direct interaction with the patient.

Fig 2. Showing the global market

These therapies include naturopathy, energy healing, magnetic intervention, and acupuncture, associated with direct sales by practitioners to the patients. Also, soaring demand achieved by distance correspondence-based alternative medicine has contributed to the highest CAGR of this segment.

Majority of the practitioners operate at micro business level and are more inclined toward achieving the required therapeutic expertise as compared with their marketing skills. However, growing medicinal and economic significance of complementary and alternative medicine is expected to enhance the distribution methods targeted toward strengthening revenue generation.

Regional Insights

Europe is expected to account for the highest revenue throughout the forecast period followed by the Asia Pacific region. Wide acceptance of alternative treatment approaches and rising patient preference toward the same is boosting the regional market for complementary and alternative medicine.

Expanding research efforts with regard to CAM have been witnessed in U.K.; this is also supplemented by stringent regulations and laws imposed on the practitioners to ensure appropriate administration of complementary and alternative medicine therapies. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), U.K., recommends the use of manual therapy in pain management, acupressure to reduce morning sickness, and Alexander technique for treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

The fact that ancient medicine originated in the Asia Pacific countries, including China, Japan, and India, offers the regional companies with a competitive edge in terms of CAM expertise and education. Popular complementary and alternative medicine therapies introduced by Chinese include Reiki, tai chi, and energy healing, whereas yoga, chakra healing, and Ayurveda have originated in India.

Complementary and alternative medicine market share insights

Some of the major players include Nordic Nutraceuticals, Columbia Nutritional, Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, Herb Pharm, John Schumacher Unity Woods Yoga Centre, Pure Encapsulations, LLC., The Healing Company Ltd, AYUSH Ayurvedic Pte Ltd, and Sheng Chang Pharmaceutical Company.

The market for complementary and alternative medicine is largely fragmented owing to presence of numerous medium and large-sized players. Several strategic initiatives such as portfolio expansions and marketing programs have been adopted by market players to maintain their market presence.

For instance, in July 2019, Columbia Nutritional developed a novel process with multi-phase onboarding aspect suitable for efficient launch of latest products online while meeting customers’ specifications. This strategy was targeted toward maintaining Minimum Order Quantity (MOQs) that would further enhance the quality of service offered.

On the other hand, in December 2018, Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute arranged an exposition for 12 days, wherein 1,200 students from approximately 53 countries were involved. This exposition helped promote practice of yoga among the youth.

Herbal medicinal products market – insights

The herbal medicines product is first choice among people to avoid adverse health effects. For instance, according to the Council for Scientific and industrial Research (CSIR), 2017, traditional medicines are mostly preferred for treating health problems compared to allopathic medicines.

Moreover, allopathy cannot be effectively remedied at around 70% due to which traditional medicines have an important role to play in meeting with equitable healthcare delivery goals. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2017, Ayurvedic medicine is the sum of the knowledge, skills, and practices, which are mainly based on the theories, beliefs, and experience of different cultures to maintain health by prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of physical, and mental illness. Increasing adoption of herbal medicinal product over conventional allopathy with low side effects is expected to boost growth of the herbal medicinal products market over the forecast period.

The global herbal medicinal products market size was valued at US$ 75,807.0 million in 2018, and is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 5.5% over the forecast period (2019 – 2027).

Source: Coherent Market Insights Analysis (2019)
Fig 3. Global herbal medicinal products market share

Favorable government regulations for homeopathic medicines are expected to boost growth of the herbal medicinal products market. The global herbal medicinal products market is expected to gain significant traction, owing to rising e-commerce for easy access of ayurvedic therapies and supplements, changes in government regulations to promote herbal medicines, and increasing expansion of herbal medicinal products globally.

For instance, in September 2017, Dabur India collaborated with Amazon India to launch an Ayurveda e-marketplace. Through this e-commerce, Amazon will offer various ayurvedic medicines such as Nutriherbs, Shilajeet, Himalaya wellness pure herbs ashwagandha, and Herbal Hills for the treatment of various illness such as gut and digestive problems, diabetes, and others.

Moreover, through this, e-commerce consumers are expected to gain easy access to all ayurvedic brand solutions such as Dabur, Patanjali, and Himalaya. Furthermore, in November 2017, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India, strengthened regulation about homeopathic medicines under the drugs and cosmetic rules, 1945. According to the drugs and cosmetic rules, 1945 regulation, homeopathy doctors are banned from selling homeopathic medicines over the counter at clinics. Moreover, pharmacists no longer require special training in homeopathy outlets for consultation purpose. This law allows pharmacists to sell homeopathic medicines along with the allopathic medicines

Moreover, in November 2017, Australia-based beauty brand CANVAS expanded its presence in Singapore with Maiko Pte Ltd, a distributer, which helped CANVAS with sales, marketing, and brand-building activities of CANVAS and its aromatherapy products. With this expansion CANVAS will strengthened its product portfolio in aromatherapy and enhanced its market presence in the global herbal medicinal products market.

Source: Coherent Market Insights Analysis (2019)
Fig 4. 2019 and 2027 market share analysis.

Increasing adoption of mergers and acquisitions and product launches by market players in Europe are expected to drive the market growth. Europe is expected to hold dominant position in the market, owing to large pharmaceutical and medical industry in the region. Thus, major players in the market are penetrating potential European countries through strategic acquisitions. For instance, in July 2013, Bayer Pharmaceuticals acquired Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk, a Germany-based herbal medicines manufacturer. The acquisition expanded Bayer’s product offerings for gastrointestinal disorders and strengthened its presence in the Germany market.

Moreover, North America is expected to be the second largest dominating region in the herbal medicinal products market, owing to rising acquisition and collaboration strategies adopted by the market players in the region. For instance, in July 2019, MediBeacon Inc. and Huadong Medicine, a producer of Chinese herbal medicines, entered into a collaboration to gain regulatory approval in Mainland China for MediBeacon’s entire product portfolio. Under the collaboration, Huadong Medicine funded clinical trials along with commercial and regulatory activities of MediBeacon Inc.

Key Players

Major players operating in the global herbal medicinal products market include Sanofi S.A, Himalaya Global Holdings Ltd., Arkopharma Laboratories, Integria Healthcare, Young Living Essential Oils, Boiron, Blackmores Ltd., and Soho Flordis International (SFI)

Further key findings from the report suggest:

  • Botanicals are the most ancient form of alternative treatment practices, which include herbal and natural treatment supplements along with another natural form of treatments incorporating oils, herbs, and other curative supplements
  • The botanicals intervention segment dominated the global market throughout the study period, whereas magnetic intervention is expected to grow at the fastest rate from 2020 to 2027
  • Mind and body healing oriented traditional medicines are some of the most frequently adopted forms of alternate therapies worldwide. Mind and body intervention incorporates various forms of energy and mind exercises to heal ailments
  • Yoga has dominated the global complementary and alternative medicine market throughout the study period, whereas hypnotherapy is projected to witness the highest growth rate over the forecast period
  • Europe is anticipated to witness highest market share over the forecast period. Rising preference for alternative treatment approaches among patients will drive the regional market for complementary and alternative medicine.
  • Key industry participants include Nordic Nutraceuticals, Pure encapsulations, LLC, AYUSH Ayurvedic Pte Ltd, and Sheng Chang Pharmaceutical Company
  • Companies are inclined toward strategic partnerships to establish their presence in the market; for instance, in June 2019, AstraZeneca partnered with Luye Pharma Group to market an herbal therapy
  • The herbal medicine product is developed from red yeast rice and is formulated to assist patients suffering from cholesterol. With this partnership, AstraZeneca is set to expand its business across China.

In conclusion, the post covid 19 medical sector will not be the same; integrative medicine will take the center stage in the healthcare business as these remedies have gained extensive popularity in this covid era.

The writer is an honorary Professor of Holistic Medicine-Vinnytsia State Pedagogical University, Ukraine and currently, LLB law/MBA  Student. He is the formulator of FDA approved Nyarkotey Hibiscus Tea for Cardiovascular Support and wellness, Men’s Formula for Prostate Health and Women’s Formula for wellness. Contact: 0241083423/0541234556

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