What is Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM)?
While modern conventional medicine focuses on the treatment of specific illnesses, CAM, including naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and Oriental medicine, expands the therapeutic approaches available to each patient.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), “complementary medicine” refers to use of CAM together with conventional medicine, such as using acupuncture. Most use of CAM by Americans is complementary. “Alternative medicine” refers to use of CAM in place of conventional medicine. “Integrative medicine” refers to a practice that combines both conventional and CAM treatments for which there is evidence of safety and effectiveness.
Over the centuries, different cultures have developed unique approaches to evaluate and treat illness. Modern conventional medicine is based upon principles of surgery and bio-medicine with a strong emphasis on drugs founded and marketed by large pharmaceutical companies. Oriental medicine is rooted in the theory and practice of acupuncture, energy meridians, and herbalism. Many of the agents marketed and sold by pharmaceutical companies are chemically similar to herbal products. Not surprising, many human beings better tolerate a more natural approach.
Complementary medicine provides this added dimension. This form of integrative medicine helps patients achieve specific goals by combining various complementary services such as acupuncture, botanical medicine, nutritional consulting, integrated lifestyle counseling, and naturopathic care with conventional medical treatment. The 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) showed that approximately 38 percent of adults use CAM.