General Information on Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Americans lives are busy as people pursue their dreams.  These busy lives leave many Americans stressed and overwhelmed. They often present to medical doctors with symptoms that have no diagnosis or medically sanctioned treatments.  Many people have turned to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to help with these ailments.

A 2007 survey from the United States Department of Health and Human Services showed that 38 percent of adults use some form of CAM.  CAM is a diverse field with many types of alternatives. It is a quickly changing and broad field. Typically CAM is considered anything that is not part of Western or traditional medicine. Complementary medicine is typically alternative healing practices that are used with traditional medicines. Alternative medicine is typically used in place of traditional medicine. Integrated medicine incorporates both traditional and CAM in practice.

CAM can be divided into three basic different means: natural products, mind-body medicine and manipulative and body practices.

Natural products may consist of herbal medicines, vitamins, minerals, dietary supplements, probiotics and other natural products.  These methods are new to the world and have been utilized in traditional Chinese medicine, Native American Cultures, and ancient Europeans.

Mind-body medicine includes mediation, yoga, acupuncture, deep breathing exercises, and hypnotherapy. Mediation is used to increase calmness and help produced a relaxed state.  It is thought that mediation helps balance people psychologically and reduces stress. Yoga is an ancient practice that began in India.  It has been practiced in the Hindu and Buddhism religious for thousands of years. There are varieties of yoga within cultures and different uses.  Yoga is typically utilized in the United States for relaxation purposes. Acupuncture has its roots in traditional Chinese Medicine. It involves electrical stimulation with the use of needles placed into the skin.  According to the National Institutes for Health it is considered one of the oldest healing practices in the world.

Manipulative and body-based practices include chiropractic care and massage therapy. According to the National Institutes for Health these practices include manipulating the bones, joints, soft tissues, and circulatory and lymphatic systems. Chiropractors, physical therapists and osteopaths are all considered part of this category. These practices have been used since the times of the ancient Greeks.  Whereas those are more commonly recognized practices massage therapy has also become a more recognized trend. It is meant to relieve pain, help relaxation and increase well-being.

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