Overview of complementary and alternative medicine

POSTED: 11:00 AM Jan 31 2013   UPDATED: 9:07 AM Feb 12 2013

By Pure Matters

What is alternative therapy?

In some cases, physicians will recommend, or patients may request, treatment alternatives that are not considered conventional medicine. “Conventional” refers to medicine typically practiced by persons who have M.D. (medical doctor) or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degrees, and who suggest treatments that have been scientifically tested, found to be safe and effective, and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Sometimes, however, these physicians may also recommend some non-conventional therapies that may be used to complement, or complete, a treatment plan.

When the term “CAM” is used, that means that the treatment combines complementary and alternative medicine.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) points out that what is considered to be CAM changes continually because once those therapies are proven to be safe and effective, they become incorporated into conventional medicine.

What are the different types of complementary and alternative therapies?

The following are some complementary and alternate therapies that may be included in a patient’s treatment plan:

Before considering complementary and alternative therapy:

Most complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) fields are not standardized or controlled by any Western medical guidelines. You should consult your physician before beginning any complementary or alternative therapy, as some therapies may interfere with standard treatment.

It is important to be an informed healthcare consumer when considering complementary or alternative medicine. Before starting therapy, you should consider the following:

What warning signs may indicate a fraudulent therapy?

According to the American Cancer Society, it is better to avoid treatment with the following warning signs: