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Sci 301 : Survey of Alternative Medicine: Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Medicine

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Essay title: Sci 301 : Survey of Alternative Medicine: Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Medicine

Survey of Alternative Medicine:

Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Medicine


Survey of Alternative Medicine: Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Medicine

Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Medicine or CAM is defined as a group of health care or healing practices that are not part of what we know today as the health care system (Peters, 1997). I believe that a better way of defining what CAM is one should see the differences it has in comparison with modern medicine techniques used today. Simply stated, CAM does not promote the use of vaccinations, medications, or surgery while modern medicine turns to those actives as the solve-all for any illness as well as for every patient. CAM introduces a whole new line of health care systems or practices that involves many aspects of natural healing and practices that approach health care in a different way than traditional ways (O'Mathuna, 2004). These practices usually, if not all the time, involve treating the person as a whole. For instance, if a patient has a sore arm, then not only does the arm get treated but so does the mind and soul; and in some practices of CAM the arm is not directly treated at all. If modern medicine was considered to be conventional, then CAM practices are open-minded. CAM practices have been around since the beginning of civilizations, but have only been able to come into public view in recent times. Publicity and government spending on this type of health care and research has increased within recent times (Fanning, 2003). In 1998, nearly half of all Americans have tried some form of CAM therapy (Hanna, 1998). In 2004 it was said that one in ever 10 Americans have tried acupuncture and 28 percent have tried massage (Sklar, 2004). As well, the Journal of American Medical Association states that 42 percent of all Americans are using CAM therapies (Sklar, 2004). For those who have not tried CAM therapies, it is almost definite that they someone who has. Without a doubt, CAM has gained acceptance and its way into the mainstream, but with that come mixed emotions by patients. There are many factors that promote as well as hinder the acceptance of CAM in the United States.

Three factors that help promote CAM practices are that there are no side effects in most therapies (Sklar, 2004); it can have an inclusion of spirituality (O'Mathuna, 2004), and promotes self-care and self-healing (O'Mathuna, 2004). Side effects are minimal with the use of such CAM healing techniques of acupuncture and massage (Sklar, 2004). These are different than compared to modern medicine where side effects are a part of almost every treatment option. Inclusion of spirituality is important to a lot of patients since faith is a strong value. Modern medicine rarely allows for these types of interventions, while CAM therapies promote and encourage these interventions which aids in the promotion of self-care and self-healing.

Three factors that hinder one from trying CAM therapies are its past reputation, unproven therapies, and questionable therapies (O'Mathuna, 2004). CAM therapies, in the past, had a bad reputation that still holds some merit in people's minds. When CAM therapies hit mainstream years ago it was seen as a new age thing and as with anything perceived as new age, people are sometimes afraid to try it. CAM has also been associated with unproven therapies when compared to an evidence based approach. There is a commission to accurately document the therapies and their affects on patients, but the commission has had a difficult time proving many CAM therapies. The Commissioners state that "most CAM modalities have not yet been proven to be safe and effective" and therefore they "believe that it is premature to advocate the wide implementation and reimbursement of CAM modalities that are yet unproven" (O'Mathuna, 2004). With unproven CAM therapies comes questionable CAM therapies due to unproven

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