Complementary and Alternative Medicines

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Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are medicines that are not considered conventional medicine. Conventional Medicine is also known as Western Medicine and is often practice by medical professional like medical doctors, nurses and therapist. The boundaries between CAM and conventional medicine are not fixed, and because CAM has recently become more accepted, the treatment combination of CAM and conventional medicine increased and the boundaries between the two faded even further.

The increased interest in CAM can be due to a new awareness and the need of individuals to take control of their health. CAM allows more flexibility with treatments and rely the control back to patient. New researchers surface often and while some treatment still do not have scientifically background to support their claims, others have proven effective into treatment of some diseases or health conditions. To better understand CAM, is important to know what is considered CAM and what it entitles.

The term complementary medicine refers to the use of CAM and conventional medicine together, one complementing the other. The term alternative medicine refers to the use of CAM instead of conventional medicine. The term integrative medicine or integrated medicine refers to the practice of combining both CAM and conventional medicine. NCCAM has classified complementary and alternative therapies into five different categories, or domains: Whole Medical Systems, Mind-Body Medicine, Biologically Based Practices, Manipulative and Body-Based Practices and Energy Medicine.

These domains are based on the use of different treatments, techniques, and beliefs. Some treatments can also involve more than one category. Whole Medical Systems According to the NCCAM classification, Alternative medical systems are named for those forms of alternative medicine that are built upon a complete system of ideas and practice. The whole medical system classification includes systems that believe in the body ability to self-healing and includes practices that involved the mind, body and spirit.

Some of these treatments are Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Naturopathic medicine, Traditional Chinese medicine Mind-Body Medicine According to the NCCAM classification, Mind-body medicine are named for those forms of alternative medicine that covers a variety of practices designed to enhance the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms. Mind-body medicine focuses on the interaction of the body, mind, and behavior. Some of these treatments are Acupuncture, Guided imagery, Hypnotherapy, Meditation, Progressive Relaxation, Yoga, Tai Chi, etc.

Biologically Based Practices According to the NCCAM classification, Biologically based therapies are named for alternative treatments that use substances found in nature that have not been scientifically proven effective. Some of these treatments include Herbal therapy, Diet and Food, Dietary supplements, and vitamins. Manipulative and Body-Based Practices According to the NCCAM classification, Manipulative and body-based methods are names for alternative treatments that are based on manipulation and/or movement of one or more parts of the body.

Some of these treatments include Chiropractic, Osteopathic Manipulation, and Massage. Energy Medicine According to the NCCAM classification, Energy medicine is named for alternative treatments that involve the use of energy fields. This medicine is divided into Biofield therapies and Bioelectromagnetic-based therapies. Biofield therapy intents to manipulate the energy fields surrounding the body while the Bioelectromagnetic-based therapies involve the unconventional use of electromagnetic fields. Some of these treatments include Magnet therapy, Medical Qigong, Reiki, and Therapeutic Touch.

Scientific Studies Researchers have found that some types of CAM can effectively improve health. One type of integrative medicine is spinal manipulative treatment (SMT). On a control trial conduct by the Western States Chiropractic College and other institutions, it found that individuals diagnosed with cervicogenic headache (CGH) benefit from SMT. SMT helped decreased the frequency and intensity of CGH in patients that were submit to the trial.

(Haas, Spegman, Peterson, et al. 2010). One research indicated that green tea might be beneficial for individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Some ingredients of green tea have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling of the joints. Since green tea is an herb, it is consider under the CAM domain of Biologically Based Practices and is recommended as a complementary treatment. (Kim, Rajaiah, Wu, et al. , 2008). Researches also investigated the use of Meditation to reduce stress. A specific group researched the efficacy of Transcendental Meditation (TM) to help reduce stress in college age individuals. The research focus was on how the TM affected the individuals’ blood pressure.

Moreover, the results shows that even thought the decreased of blood pressure were not significant between the control group and the TM group, the TM group did show significant improvement in psychological distress, anxiety, depression, anger/hostility, and coping ability. (Nidich, Rainforth, Haaga, et al. , 2009). References Haas M. , Spegman A. , Peterson D. , et al. (2010). Study of Spinal Manipulative Therapy for Neck-Related Headaches Reports Findings on Dose and Efficacy. NCCAM. Retrieved August 9, 2010 from http://nccam. nih. gov/research/results/spotlight/041310. htm Kim HR. , Rajaiah R. , Wu QL. , et al. (2008).

Green Tea May Help Protect Against Rheumatoid Arthritis. NCCAM. Retrieved August 9, 2010 from http://nccam. nih. gov/research/results/spotlight/120808. htm NCCAM. (2010). What Is Complementary and Alternative Medicine? Retrieved August 8, 2010 from http://nccam. nih. gov/health/whatiscam/ NCCAM. (2010). Whole Medical Systems: An Overview. Retrieved August 8, 2010 from http://nccam. nih. gov/health/whatiscam/wholemedical/ Nidich SI. , Rainforth MV. , Haaga DAF. , et al. (2009). Transcendental Meditation Helps Young Adults Cope With Stress. NCCAM. Retrieved August 9, 2010 from http://nccam. nih. gov/research/results/spotlight/051410. htm.

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