Complimentary and Alternative Medicine


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CAM or complimentary and alternative medicine refers to unconventional medicinal techniques that are simply not considered the standard, although many have been around for centuries. Many of these techniques center around the use of herbs, healing touch, and energy to restore balance in the patient, ease pain and cure disease. 

NCCAM stands for The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and it is the section of the NIH devoted to funding and incentivizing of  empirical study of unconventional medicinal methods such as CAMs. The NCCAM's job is to carry on scientific investigation on these methods' usefulness and safety. When it comes to research funds we are now close to $250 million from NIH sectors, plus tens of millions more from other private donors.  Also, according to an article featured on the NIH site referencing a 2007 government survey, in 2009 over the course of a 12- month period, Americans had spent $33.9 billion dollars on CAMs. Other sources indicate that this number has been increasing. 

Although the NIH's NCCAM is responsible for the continuing research on these methods' efficacy and safety, the decision of wether or not to make use of these treatments falls in the hands of medical centers. Every medical center has it's own idea of how to best incorporate CAMs into their treatment programs, and it is quite rare to find a general consensus on what the best method, dosage and target disease or patient population really is. 

There is still a huge need for research on this field due to the fact that we have yet to validate the efficacy of most of these methods. It has been reported that many of the placebo trials have failed to support positive effects from CAMs, and there does not seem to be any conclusive evidence for most of these methods. Still, it has been show that Reiki may increase feelings of happiness, relaxation and calmness, acupuncture has a chance of reducing chemotherapy induced vomiting and chronic pain conditions, and finally it seems like chiropractic medicine may reduce lower back pain.  

Personally, I think I would definitely recommend some of these to family and friends. Although there's a lot of work to do research wise, as long as they produce no harm I would be willing to use them myself. I believe that a big part of getting better has to do with being in the right state of mind. If techniques and practices such as Yoga and Reiki can get you there without causing any significant harm, I feel that they are worth utilizing. On the other hand, I also recently became aware of other factors such as potentially high levels of mercury and lead present in herbal medicines, and now I don't think I would recommend this method without first doing some more intensive research on the specific option.

CAMs are definitely a growing trend in American medicine, but how do you feel about it? Would you recommend these to your loved ones too or just steer clear until more research has been done?


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Sources

http://www.webmd.com/balance/what-is-alternative-medicine

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/altmed/ 

http://nccam.nih.gov/news/2009/073009.htm

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/managing-your-healthcare/pain/articles/2008/01/09/embracing-alternative-care

http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam









1 Comment

personally it is my opinion that it is best to avoid medicines that are not provided by your doctor because there could be harmful side effects when mixing these medications. When a doctor prescribes you something he is looking at you medical history and knows that it is safe to give you. Here is an article supporting my point.
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/risks-associated-with-complementary-and-alternative-cam-medicine-a-brief-overview/

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