Going to the doctor is not like it used to be. In olden times doctors visits were more personalized and in depth. Now traditional medicine is very impersonal and doctors send you home with up to 5 prescriptions that you need to start taking right away. The only problem is you will return next week because of all the side affects that you have from all the medicine the doctor prescribed you in the first place and your original problem still won’t be solved. Unfortunately, the reason behind all the new prescriptions is because of all the kickbacks that doctors get for prescribing them. Although, these medications don’t help the patients and will undoubtedly cause more symptoms. So many Americans have started looking towards complementary and alternative medicine.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a group of diverse medical practices that are not generally accepted by conventional medicine, conventional medicine being medicine practiced by an M.D., D.O., psychologist, registered nurse, or physical therapist. This group of medicine is continually changing and types of medicine are very broad, however the ultimate goal of this type of medicine is find whole body health and wellness. The principals and guidelines for each individual type of CAM although diverse are based on holistic properties, whereby treating the body as a whole and resolving the underlying problems are far more important in the long run rather than just reducing the symptoms.
CAM involves the connection between the mind and body and not only relieves symptoms but works to resolve the underlying problems as well. Although, used in conjunction with one another, complementary and alternative medicines are two completely different groups of medicine. Complementary medicine unlike its cohort is used in conjunction with traditional medicine. Therefore the treatment or medicine complements conventional means of resolving pain, disease or illness. Where as alternative medicine, is used in place of conventional medicine to promote self-healing, and preventative medicine.
In the past, CAM was not accepted due to its lack of scientific basis and evidence. However, because many CAM practices are deeply rooted in Eastern history and are based upon traditional medicine, folk knowledge, and spiritual beliefs people are now turning to this type of medicine. Not to mention that patients are seeing and feeling results from CAM. There is no greater influence than someone else’s testimonial, which is causing the rise in CAM. Western medicine, although still hesitant, is just beginning to use some alternative medicines as complements to their conventional methods. Additionally insurances have turned the corner and started allowing several alternative medicines as part of their covered benefits. That’s not to say that CAM is completely accepted by the medical community, it is a long way off. However it has opened the door for new approaches to healing some of which are old ideas with new methods.
Due to the diversity of available CAM’s, it is easier to group them together to understand what type of medicine and treatment is rendered. The categories include natural products, mind-body medicine, and manipulative and body-based practices. Natural products include a variety of herbal medicines, vitamins, minerals and other “natural products”. Products considered natural can include dietary supplementation, herbal or botanical, and probiotics. Mind-body medicine focuses on the connection between the mind and the body to heal and promote health. These practices include meditation, yoga, acupuncture, deep-breathing, guided imagery, hypnotherapy, and tai chi. Lastly manipulative and body-based practices focus on the body systems and their structures. Spinal manipulation from chiropractic care and massage therapy are two commonly used body-based practices.