What are the different types of CAM?
Many different areas make up the practice of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). In addition, many parts of one field may overlap with the parts of another field. For example, acupuncture is also used in conventional medicine. In the U.S., CAM is used by about 38% of adults and 12% of children. Examples of CAM include:
- Traditional alternative medicine. This field includes the more mainstream and accepted forms of therapy, such as acupuncture, homeopathy, and Oriental practices. These therapies have been practiced for centuries worldwide. Traditional alternative medicine may include:
- Chinese or Oriental medicine
Integrative medicine is grounded in the definition of health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Integrative medicine seeks to restore and maintain health and wellness across a person’s lifespan by understanding the patient’s unique set of circumstances and addressing the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that affect health. 2 Through personalizing care, integrative medicine goes beyond the treatment of symptoms to address all the causes of an illness. In doing so, the patient’s immediate health needs as well as the effects of the long-term and complex interplay between biological, behavioral, psychosocial and environmental influences are taken into account.
Integrative medicine is not the same as alternative medicine, which refers to an approach to healing that is utilized in place of conventional therapies, or complementary medicine, which refers to healing modalities that are used to complement allopathic approaches. If the defining principles are applied, care can be integrative regardless of which modalities are utilized.
The defining principles of integrative medicine are:
- The patient and practitioner are partners in the healing process.
- All factors that influence health, wellness and disease are taken into consideration, including body, mind, spirit and community.
- Providers use all healing sciences to facilitate the body’s innate healing response.
- Effective interventions that are natural and less invasive are used whenever possible.
- Good medicine is based in good science. It is inquiry-driven and open to new paradigms.
- Alongside the concept of treatment, the broader concepts of health promotion and the prevention of illness are paramount.
- The care is personalized to best address the individual’s unique conditions, needs and circumstances. Practitioners of integrative medicine exemplify its principles and commit themselves to self-exploration and self-development.
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