What Is Alternative Medicine?

alternative medicine

Many people use health care treatments that aren’t part of traditional Western medicine. This is called complementary, integrative or alternative medicine (CAM).

CAM includes practices such as massage, biofeedback, tai chi, yoga, music therapy and prayer. It also includes dietary supplements, herbal remedies and certain mind-body therapies such as meditation and some uses of hypnosis. It does not include acupuncture, which is part of conventional treatment for some diseases.

While some CAM approaches are widely used, others are not. Some practitioners claim that alternative treatments are safer and more effective than conventional treatments, but there is not much evidence to support these claims. Many researchers believe that a placebo effect may explain some of the benefits of alternative therapies.

Exploring Paths to Wellness: A Journey into the World of Alternative Medicine

In addition, some CAM practices may interfere with standard medical treatment. This can increase the risk of side effects, decrease its effectiveness or cause drug interactions. For example, some herbal remedies, such as St. John’s wort, can interact with some medications for depression.

Some people who use CAM report that they do so because they are dissatisfied with conventional medicine or because they think that alternative treatments are more in line with their values, beliefs and philosophical orientation toward health and healing. However, research suggests that the majority of people who use CAM do so for a variety of other reasons, such as wanting to reduce stress or because they find these health care approaches more convenient and affordable than traditional ones.