Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) are any medicine used for therapy that does not fall under standard medical care. CAM therapies have been criticized by scientific researchers. Main concerns pointed out are the fact that these medicines are not clinically and scientifically tested. Those who promote alternative treatment also do not require testing which makes it more difficult. It is hard to determine if they actually work or the result is just a product of placebo effect. Placebo effect means treatment done through the power of suggestion. Patients are therefore cautioned to use complementary and alternative medicines with due care.
Complementary Medicine as the name itself suggests is used to complement or support standard medicines. Alternative Medicines are used in place of standard treatments. Integrative Medicine aims to treat holistically and combines both standard and CAM medicines.
Complementary and alternative medicines are generally used or practiced in developing countries where access to conventional medicines is sometimes difficult. In developed countries, an estimated half of the population also uses complementary and alternative medicine. In the United States, the most popular alternative therapies used are yoga, meditation, herbal treatments and Atkins diet. Praying, group praying or spiritual healing practices are also gaining popularity.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine created five categories for complementary and alternative medicines. These medicines do not only apply to cancer but to also other ailments as well.
* Creative Outlets
Biologically based Practices
* Special diets
Manipulative and Body-based practices
* Chiropractic care
* Tai Chi
* Therapeutic Touch
Whole Medical Systems
* Ayurvedic medicine
* Chinese medicine
* Naturopathic medicine