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complementary and alternative medicines (CAM)

Updated on March 8, 2017

Many people are choosing to address their health care needs and maintain their health by using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). CAM includes a variety of practices that are administered by practitioners other than medical doctors, osteopaths, and other traditional health care providers. To learn about CAM, please click on this link.

Which type of service or provider would you be willing to consider, based on your ideologies and lifestyle? Which treatment philosophies ring true with you? Why? Are there any CAM providers you would rather not treat you? Why not?

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) refers to various medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not conventional medicine because of a lack of proof that they are both safe and effective (Hales, 2013, p. 561). There are many different philosophies, approaches, therapies, and preventive techniques that are considered CAM (Hales, 2013, p. 561). Some CAM practices encompass holistic methods; holistic medicine and techniques focus on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of a person’s well-being (Hales, 2013, p. 561). People in general tend to seek out CAM techniques when they want to improve their overall health, to relieve symptoms from a chronic disorder, and/or to treat a terminal illness (Hales, 2013, p. 561). There are many different CAM techniques the most widely known methods of CAM are: natural products, acupuncture, deep breathing, meditation, chiropractic, osteopathic, yoga, diet therapies, naturopathy, progressive relaxation, guided imagery, and homeopathic treatment (Hales, 2013, p. 562).

I personally do not have any ideologies that would stop me from trying CAM techniques to treat a medical problem. I do, however, have a few lifestyle decisions that would rule out several CAM techniques. As a vegetarian, I would be unwilling to take part in a diet that involved eating meat or fish and, therefore, I would be unwilling to take fish oil. I also have a needle phobia which would rule out acupuncture as a CAM technique for me. I would be unwilling to be treated by a chiropractor because I had a spinal fusion surgery done a few years ago; after the surgery I was advised to avoid chiropractors as they could unintentionally cause harm do to the metal rod in my back. I personally have some experience with CAM. I have a chronic condition know has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome; Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is a group of inherited disorders that affects a person’s skin, joints, and blood vessels. I have used natural products to help relieve pain; I have tried both herbal pills and creams. I am certain that the natural products did not make anything worse, but I am uncertain if they really helped at all.


Hales, D. (2013). An invitation to health: Live it now! (16th ed.). Stamford, Conn.: Cengage Learning.


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