Alternative Medicine Cam Refers to Complementary, Alternative, Essay

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Alternative Medicine

CAM refers to complementary, alternative, or integrative medicine. Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, but they actually mean different things to practitioners. The term complementary "generally refers to using a non-mainstream approach together with conventional medicine (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013). The term alternative "refers to using a non-mainstream approach in place of conventional medicine" (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013). Integrative medicine is most similar to complementary medicine, in that it refers to using alternative practices in conjunction with traditional, mainstream approaches. However, because the line between mainstream and non-mainstream approaches is fluid, many practitioners incorporate approaches that were recently considered alternative into their mainstream treatment.

Conventional medicine plays a role in most of the CAM spectrum. First, it is important to realize that few people or practitioners adhere to strictly alternative methods. "Most people use non-mainstream approaches along with conventional treatments. And the boundaries between complementary and conventional medicine overlap and change with time" (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013). Currently, conventional medical practitioners use complementary and integrative practices, not only for treating patients, but also for symptom reduction. For example, massage was one considered an alternative medical practice, but has gained acceptance in the mainstream medical community for certain purposes. Likewise, meditation for relaxation purposes is commonly used as a treatment. Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that medical care is often determined by patients as well as practitioners.
A patient might use an alternative treatment with or without a doctor's knowledge. This becomes even more apparent when one considers the wide range of alternative practices. They fall into two broad groups: natural products, and mind and body practices. Natural products include herbs, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013). Mind and body practices include acupuncture, massage therapy, meditation, movement therapies, relaxation techniques, spinal manipulation, tai chi, qi gong, yoga, healing touch, and hypnotherapy (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013). Most of these techniques can be incorporated into a conventional Western medical approach.

It is impossible to state a single philosophy of CAM, as the individual alternative approaches may come from different philosophical backgrounds. For example, a naturopath practitioner would approach treatment with a philosophy based on the healing power of nature. In contrast, a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner actually takes a religious- based Taoist approach to treatment. However, an overarching philosophy behind CAM is that less-invasive and less aggressive approaches can provide significant results. CAM also emphasizes the role of prevention. Western medicine takes a far more aggressive philosophical approach; disease is treated like an enemy to be vanquished from the body, and the body often becomes a battlefield between the disease and the treatment.

The five domains of therapies are: alternative medical systems; mind-body interventions; biologically-based treatments; manipulative and body-based methods; and energy therapies (NCCAM, 2000). "Alternative medical systems involve….....

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