- Published: October 26, 2022
- Updated: October 26, 2022
- Level: High School
- Language: English
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Complementary, alternative and integrative medicine (CAM) is a group of medicine streams which are not considered part of conventional medicine practiced in USA such as allopathic medicine. Keegan 2001, has stated that CAM can belong to diverse schools of philosophy such as; Ayurvedic Medicine, Chiropractic, Environmental Medicine, Herbal Medicine, Holistic Dentistry, Homeopathy, Midwifery, Natural Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, Shamanism, Traditional Chinese Medicine. Complementary Medicine (additional treatment to that prescribed by a physician) and Alternative Medicine (non conventional treatment in lieu of conventional treatment) do not denote different methods but depict different situations when non conventional healing methods are used.
The factors responsible for growing popularity of CAM are thought to be:
Holistic Care: Many practitioners guide the patients towards CAM in conjunction with allopathic paradigm
Escalating Costs: Expensive chronic treatments are giving way to CAM managed healing
Greater awareness and interest in wellbeing: People are becoming aware of alternative ways of curing common ailments without the use of allopathic medicines
The factors which are hindering acceptance of CAM in United States are:
Most CAMs are perceived to be pseudoscientific have not been scientifically proven and sometimes are not testable.
Perceived to be dangerous- Many of the CAM streams are shrouded in mystery and associated with primitive cultures of Far East or Africa.
Lack of government support towards their research and building of scientific database of credible success stories.
An ancient CAM is Ayurveda (science of life) which has been practiced in India since around 5000 years. It is based on the belief that there are broadly 3 body types, Kapha, Pitta and Vata, and an illness manifests itself if there is imbalance in the body. Diagnosis is done through monitoring the pulse and observing the tongue. Treatment involves diet restrictions, hatha yoga, breathing exercises and a prescription of herbal medicines. Allopathic Medicine in contrast lays stress on treating the symptoms like fever, cough etc and to kill pathogens which are believed to be the cause of illness. Here the medicine suppresses the natural response of our body to pathogens. Thus the two streams cannot be compared as they are based on different philosophies, one tries to regain body’s natural balance and the other overrides the nature of the body to cure.
The attributes of the five categories of CAM as defined by National Centre for CAM are:
Whole Medical Systems-These are believed to have developed earlier than conventional medicine and are complete systems in theory and practice e. g. homeopathic, naturopathic, ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.
Mind-body Medicine-These are believed to augment mind’s capacity to stimulate bodily functions, eg prayers, meditation, dance etc.
Biologically based practices- Herbs and other substances found in nature e. g, tiger’s paw to cure impotence.
Manipulative and body based practices- Massage and osteopathic message fall into this category which involve movement of body or its parts.
Energy Medicine-Biofield therapies like Reiki, gi gong, and bio electromagnetic therapies using electro magnets fall here and involve the energy fields that surround our body to cure.
The philosophy and healing techniques are varied and are described briefly above. In my opinion they are not to be dismissed as hearsay, but are yet to become are robust and scientific as the conventional medicine. They are good alternative in chronic and terminal diseases where chronic medicines do not deliver satisfactorily.
Keegan, L. (2001). Healing with complementary and alternative therapies. Albany, NY: Delmar
http://nccam. nih. gov/health/whatiscam date of access 01-15-2008