Last spring, as CVS pivoted toward health and wellness, prepping its release of CBD products, CivicScience asked adults which remedy they preferred for common ailments, conventional or holistic? At the time, nearly three-fourths of U.S. adults turned to conventional medicine. But seekers of holistic remedies dovetailed with other growing trends, like preferring organic food and relying on social media advertising. 

Though conventional medicines still appeal to the majority of adults, the needle has budged in the direction of holistic treatments. The portion of adults who first turn to conventional medicine to cure a common ailment is down four percentage points compared to last April. Those preferring holistic remedies have risen two points, meaning nearly one in five adults now favors trying holistic first. 


So who’s moving that needle? Last year, the initial numbers for age appeared relatively even. Now, however, it’s clear that younger people lean far less on conventional medicines than older people. With last year’s results on the influence of social media, this makes perfect sense. And it may only become more pronounced in time: 23% of Gen Z, who already shies away from conventional medicine the most and is heavily swayed by social media, still has the largest grouping of those unsure of their treatment preferences.

Adults who tend to buy organic foods have grown fonder of trying holistic remedies, too—in a big way. In April of 2019, 32% of adults who shopped organic turned to holistic medicine. Now, 49% do. Even U.S. adults who do not buy organic food seem to be catching wind of the trend. In April 2019, 8% of respondents utilized holistic remedies. Now, 16% do. 

To gauge what might be contributing to this change, CivicScience also looked at interests like reading health and fitness books. Not surprisingly, adults who enjoy this kind of nonfiction are more likely than adults who do not enjoy said reading materials to go for a holistic remedy.

In addition, some of the changes in preference for holistic and conventional remedies is very likely from social media. As already discussed, social media (and the internet at large) holds sway over millions. The influence of social media remained about the same for holistic remedy users, but it gained significant ground for users of conventional medicine and those who were still unsure which treatment type they would go for first. The biggest change came from those who were unsure of which remedy they’d prefer to choose first. Whereas 37% were influenced to buy because of the internet and social media last April, 58% now say they’re more influenced by social media.

A deeper influence of—well—influencers can be seen when crossing adults who have purchased a product based on social media with those who prefer conventional or holistic medicine. Although 78% of adults who side with holistic remedies said they’ve never purchased something based on social media, holistic remedy users are still more likely to have been influenced by social media than conventional medicine users.

In the end, interest in holistic remedies for common ailments like the cold or a headache is up from last year. The change may not be drastic, but it’s still there, and it appears to have the weight of social media behind it. This could mean even more gains in the future.

And for those wondering about last year’s CBD comparison—yes, CBD users definitely still prefer going holistic.