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Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing in popularity with both patients and clinicians. Improvements seen in climacteric symptoms and quality of life measures when acupuncture was employed.
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Do your patients talk to you about the dietary supplements (soy, ginseng, etc.) they may be taking while undergoing cancer treatment? By Cattie CoyleI am constantly struggling with whether to use the term complementary or alternative medicine when labeling posts and therapies on this blog.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time, and was reminded of it again recently when I was contacted by Brooke Marsh, an Animal Physiotherapist in Australia, who disagreed with my choice of “Alternative” in the title of the list of Australian practitioners, saying it was inaccurate. I thought that was very interesting and, in order to clarify things for myself, set out on a hunt for the definite definition of each of these terms. I did make a few useful discoveries, and thought I’d share them here, and perhaps also start a bit of a discussion.
In the UK, an alternative therapy is a scientifically unproven modality that is used instead of conventional Western medicine (examples can be special diets such as Gerson therapy, or supplements like Shark Cartilage). As classified by the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee, Alternative disciplines “Embraces those other disciplines which purport to offer diagnostic information as well as treatment and which, in general, favour a philosophical approach and are indifferent to the scientific principles of conventional medicine, and through which various and disparate frameworks of disease causation and its management are proposed.
They also separate out what they describe as “Professionally organised alternative therapies” which is defined: “Therapies that may be called the principal disciplines, two of which, osteopathy and chiropractic, are already regulated in their professional activity and education by Acts of Parliament. Similarly, in Australia, alternative therapies are those that are used instead of Western medicine and have not been tested (examples include ozone therapy, magnet therapy, microwave therapy, coffee enemas, etc.).
As we saw above, everybody seems to be in agreement that a therapy (and indeed many alternative therapies) is considered complementary medicine when it is used alongside conventional Western medicine, but again, definitions vary.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines complementary medicine as: “Designating or pertaining to medicine seen by its practitioners as complementary to traditional or orthodox medicine but not based on modern scientific knowledge and not recognized by the majority of medical practitioners. NCCAM states” The term complementary medicine refers to a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered to be part of conventional medicine.
The American Social Health Association describes complementary medicine as “Non-mainstream health care provided in addition or instead of standard medical practice. According to the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Center, complementary medicine is “Practices often used to enhance or complement standard treatments.
The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee defines Complementary therapies as follows: “Therapies which are most often used to complement conventional medicine and do not purport to embrace diagnostic skills. In Australia, complementary therapies are used in conjunction with Western medicine and have been scientifically proven to be effective. From The (Australian) National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM): “There is no universally agreed definition of complementary medicine. Integrative medicine (complementary medicine used together with mainstream western medicine).
Melbourne Holistic Health: “Complementary medicine (CM) generally refers to a wide range of health care practices that do not use drugs or invasive techniques. In light of what we have seen so far, I think the term CAM makes great sense, because it really sounds like you could be practicing the exact same therapy and it would be called ‘alternative” if the owner does not also have their animal treated with conventional medicine, and “complementary” if they do. According to NIH (NCCAM), “Defining CAM is difficult, because the field is very broad and constantly changing. Other (which includes Feldenkrais method, Alexander technique, Pilates, Rolfing Structural Integration, Trager psychophysical integration, magnet and light therapy, qi gong, Reiki, and healing touch). The Committee for Complementary Medicine of The House of Lords states “Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is a title used to refer to a diverse group of health-related therapies and disciplines which are not considered to be a part of mainstream medical care.
It is worth noting that The Committee defines Massage and Aromatherapy as ‘complementary’ because they ‘do not purport to embrace diagnostic skills’. The Medical Journal of Australia quotes NIH (NCCAM)’s definition “healthcare practices that are not an integral part of conventional medicine.
They continue: “All the CAM groups subscribe, in one way or another, to the principle of “vitalism” — that all living organisms are sustained by a vital force that is both different from and greater than physical and chemical forces.
Another acronym is eCAM which stands for evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. Cattie CoyleFounder and Editor at Animal Wellness GuideCattie is the founder and editor of Animal Wellness Guide.


Biologically based complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches include herbal medicines, 'megadoses' of vitamins and SPECIAL DIETS107, such as those proposed by Drs Atkins108 and Ornish109.
Complementary and alternative medicine, also known as CAM, has had a long and controversial history. There are different types of CAM (see Figure 1), placed into discrete categories according to how they work: biologically-based therapies that involve the consumption of products, energy therapies that consist of channelling healing energy, mind-body interventions that use the mind to create a positive effect on the body and manipulative therapies that involve the movement or manipulation of the body.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, is a whole medical system that has received controversy recently (see Figure 2) due to an absence of regulation, lack of scientific basis, use of animal products in its medicinal treatments and the toxicity of some of the herbal medicines used. Amidst all the controversy, according to the Oxford Handbook of Palliative Care and the Nursing Times, it is becoming more frequently used by patients (Ernst & White, 2000), especially terminally ill patients, for pain relief, for many reasons, including desperation and the many side effects of conventional medicine. Palliative care is a branch of medicine that aims to prevent and relieve suffering and to support the best possible quality of life for patients with advanced, progressive or life-limiting conditions, many of whom are terminally ill. Although there are many different types of pain, the one thing, however, that is common in all patients with pain is that pain limits the patient’s quality of life, and this is why it is very important for patients to achieve analgesia, the state of being pain-free. Pain can also be controlled by CAM, the main principles of which usually involve a holistic therapy (the whole body is being treated, not just the cause of an ailment) and the support of physical, psychosocial and emotional factors.
These holistic principles make CAM increasingly popular with patients, with an average of 40% of patients with life-threatening or chronic illness using CAM compared to 28% of the general UK population (Watson, et al., 2005). Some reasons for an increased reliability on CAM include the holistic nature of the therapy, dissatisfaction with conventional medicine being ineffective, side effects of conventional medicine, poor patient-physician relationship, long waiting lists, desperation and rejection of orthodox medicine (see Figure 4). Information such as evidence for the efficacy or the QALY of a therapy would be considered.
For example, acupuncture, which is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, has already been approved to be used in the NHS for the early management of persistent non-specific low back pain. This study has been done to determine the extent to which Traditional Chinese Medicine should be available in the NHS as a complementary and alternative therapy to treat pain in palliative care patients.
This will involve researching how TCM is used in pain relief, including its risks and benefits; how cost-effective TCM is, including a comparison between conventional medicines and whether freedom of choice of therapy is more important in palliative care pain relief than the cost of the drug. From early on in the project, I predicted that TCM will be more expensive and less cost-effective than conventional medicine and that this has been a barrier for its acceptance onto the NHS, but that people will feel that freedom of choice is very important. In this section we present a number of current alternate therapies and systems, and complimentary practices. This increased risk could be due to decreased physical activity and increased stress associated with cancer diagnosis and treatment. May 29, 2014 Alternative MedicineSign-Up For Our Newsletter and Receive Your FREE E-Book "Nutrients and Food for Disease Prevention" My Name Is Randy and I Would Enjoy Helping You To Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes That Includes Nutrition and Fitness We Respect Your Privacy. Turns out I am not the only one – there is a lot of confusion surrounding these terms. It is most often used in conjunction with complementary medicine, and the whole things is abbreviated CAM (more on that further down). Complementary therapies are used together with conventional medicine (massage therapy, acupuncture, yoga, etc.
They generally are not recognized by the medical community as standard or conventional medical approaches.
Examples include acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, chiropractic, meditation, and somewhat surprisingly (to me anyway) music therapy, etc.
Nomenclature varies, with terms including complementary, alternative and traditional medicine. The term complementary medicine is considered to be inclusive of historically used names such as alternative medicine, natural medicine and traditional medicine. Treatments may include herbal medicines, homoeopathic medicines or nutritional and other supplements. Of course, we all know that pet owners need to check with their vet before starting any other therapy, but theoretically speaking… So how is CAM defined? NCCAM defines CAM as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine.
The theoretical bases and techniques of CAVM may diverge from veterinary medicine routinely taught in North American veterinary medical schools or may differ from current scientific knowledge, or both. There are numerous ways of expressing this vitalism (Qi, life force, yin-yang, prana, universal intelligence, innate, etc). To term the group of modalities alternative may be to claim too much for their role in healthcare, but to term them complementary may make their role seem secondary to primary medical care. As the name implies, it is an evidence-based approach, and such research is being done by agencies like the U.S. She is a freelance photographer, graduate of Bancroft School of Massage Therapy’s small animal program, and has studied Applied Zoopharmacognosy.
The Oxford Handbook of Complementary Medicine states that if CAM is used alongside conventional medical treatment, then the therapy or treatment is used as a complementary treatment. Palliative care also involves enhancing the quality of life and helping patients to live as actively as possible, and alleviating the side effects of medication, like chemotherapy.
This can be achieved using analgesics, painkilling drugs, which are given on an analgesic ladder (as pain increases, the medication given is also increased and adjuvants, additional medication to increase the benefits of the analgesics are given). However, there are many reasons, more than just the treatment’s efficacy (how well it works), which allows a therapy to be approved on to the NHS by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). The QALY or the quality-adjusted life year is a measure of how much long a quality life a patient can be expected to gain from having the therapy, taking into account a patient’s well-being, independence and other factors. But why is not Traditional Chinese Medicine approved, especially for something as important to quality of life as for pain relief?


This will be done through surveys, interviews and careful consideration of existing literature. Some practices, although popular, have yet to be established as medically effective treatments via research literature.
We Will Not Sell Your E-Mail To No One!Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the combined use of medical practices and products that aren’t a part of conventional medicine.
And to make things even more confusing, some are used slightly differently in different parts of the (English speaking) world.
Generally alternative therapies are closer to nature, cheaper and less invasive than conventional therapies, although there are exceptions. Group 3a includes long-established and traditional systems of healthcare such as Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine.
In Australia, the common complementary therapies practiced are: naturopathy, herbal medicine, homoeopathy, acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, aromatherapy, all of the massage therapies, osteopathy and chiropractic.
Conventional medicine (also called Western or allopathic medicine) is medicine as practiced by holders of M.D. It is not the intent of these guidelines to determine or describe the relative value of the individual modalities. However, it should be noted that many of the therapies of the traditional paradigms have been incorporated into current practice without adopting vitalistic principles.
To call them integrative implies some process in which integration or convergence will eventually occur. There will be a part 2 to this post, where we take a look at “holistic”, “integrative”, “traditional”, “allopathic” and “conventional” medicine, so stay tuned!
Mind–body interventions use various techniques that are designed to facilitate the capacity of the mind to affect bodily function and symptoms, including yoga, prayer, meditation, spirituality and guided imagery. CAM comprises a group of diagnostic or therapeutic systems of healthcare that is separate from conventional medicine (also known as western medicine).
However, if CAM is used instead of conventional treatment, then the therapy is described as alternative medicine. Palliative care neither aims to prolong or curtail the lifespan of the patient (Watson, et al., 2005), but is mainly concerned with maximising the quality of life of patients through the management of symptoms (see Figure 3), especially pain, which is the most frequently seen symptom in palliative care. These medications do, however, carry side effects, which often push people away from conventional medicine. Other factors are taken into account including the benefit to the patient, cost and cost-effectiveness and whether the therapy would help the NHS achieve set targets, gaining information and evidence from doctors, drug companies and patients. Indeed, TCM does have its own system of diagnosing and treating pain that is vastly different to conventional medicine, but if palliative care is all about reducing symptoms like pain, then perhaps TCM should be approved as a method of pain relief in the NHS. Many are using the CAM approach in hopes that they can prevent disease and live a more enhanced quality of life. CAM embraces those therapies that may either be provided alongside conventional medicine (complementary) or which may, in the view of their practitioners, act as a substitute for it.
Most CAM appears to be supplementary or additional to conventional care, rather than an alternative.
Energy therapies are intended to affect energy fields (biofields) that purportedly surround and penetrate the human body, using REIKI and therapeutic touch. Conventional medicine is distinct from CAM because of its evidence-based or scientific nature as opposed to a set of cultural practices that may be seen in CAM. Others may refer to CAM being used to help maximise the benefits of conventional treatment, and this is known as integrative medicine. 50% of all cancer patients experience some level of pain (Running & Turnbeaugh, 2011) and many patients are increasingly relying on an integrative approach of CAM to achieve a state of analgesia.
In the extreme form the vital force is supernatural, while the more moderate form assumes vis medicatrix naturae (“the healing power of nature”), and the physician merely facilitates this. Alternatively, energy therapies can involve the unconventional use of ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS, such as pulsed fields, magnetic fields, or alternating- or direct-current fields. Such a position contrasts with materialism, which holds that disease can be explained entirely in terms of materialistic factors (usually biological ones in the case of biomedicine), so there is no need to invoke vitalistic forces. Alternative medical systems involve complete systems of theory and practice that have evolved independently of, and often before, the conventional biomedical approach.
Vitalism leads to a different philosophy about health, healthcare and the role of the healthcare provider. The aromatherapy treatments may include massage, baths or inhalation therapies.AcupunctureA professional acupuncturist inserts long, thin needles just under the skin in particular areas of the body. This therapy can help relieve pain and help your mind relax or get rid of bad habits, such as smoking. It’s usually completely painless.Bowen Technique Bowen therapy is a soft tissue remedial therapy that involves the therapist using fingers or thumbs to move over muscle, ligament, tendon and fascia in various parts of the body. This therapy can be effective to help relieve everyday stresses and revitalize the whole person.The Bowen Technique treats the whole person, not just the condition.



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