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admin 13.09.2015

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 (CAM) is the popular term for health and wellness therapies that have typically not been part of conventional Western medicine. CAM focuses on the whole person and includes physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.
Chie Terui I love to watch clients choose to make lifestyle changes, like drinking water with their lunch instead of a Pepsi.
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The University of Sydney's announcement of a role funded by the Blackmores Institute raises perennial questions about whether industry-funded research can be truly independent. 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. For example, CAM includes mind-body medicine (such as meditation, acupuncture and yoga), manipulative and body-based practices (such as massage therapy and spinal manipulation), and natural products (such as herbs and dietary supplements).
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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 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.
Integrative medicine combines, or integrates, the best of conventional medical care with the best of evidence-based CAM. 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.




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