Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Encyclopedia
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is an umbrella term for alternative medicine, complementary medicine, and integrative medicine. Alternative medicine describes practices used in place of conventional medical treatments. Complementary medicine describes practices used in conjunction and cooperation with conventional medicine. While integrative medicine is viewed as the best of complementary medicine by its advocates.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine defines complementary and alternative medicine as "a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine". It also defines integrative medicine as "[combining] mainstream medical therapies and CAM therapies for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness".
CAM has been described as comprising "a diverse group of treatments, ranging from symptomatic interventions to be used in conjunction with traditional therapies—therapeutic touch or meditation—to unique treatments meant to replace conventional chemotherapy or surgery. CAM includes complex and longstanding fields of study, such as acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine, and homoeopathy, but can also be as straightforward as taking a specific dietary supplement to lower blood pressure or blood lipid concentrations."
Holistic medicine is defined as a system of health care which fosters a cooperative relationship among all those involved, leading towards optimal attainment of the physical, mental emotional, social and spiritual aspects of health.
Holistic Medicine emphasizes the need to look at the whole person, including analysis of physical, nutritional, environmental, emotional, social, spiritual and lifestyle values. Holistic Medicine is often related to alternative medicine but it encompasses all stated modalities of diagnosis and treatment including drugs and surgery, if no safe alternative exists. Holistic medicine focuses on education and responsibility for personal efforts to achieve balance and well being.
Natural Medicine is a term used to describe the philosophy of the particular alternative medicine systems that emphasize Vis Medicatrix Naturae, "the healing power of nature." It is often considered synonymous with Naturopathy or Naturopathic Medicine but most (not all) complementary and alternative medicine systems are considered natural medicine. The therapeutic emphasis of Natural Medicine is on supporting or stimulating the organism’s self-healing processes, rather than treating the symptoms or the disease. This is also sometimes call "vitalistic" medicine.
Individual CAM Therapies (alphabetic list)
General Topics Related to CAM