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Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. The NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) classifies CAM therapies into five categories or domains:

  1. Alternative medical systems, or complete systems of therapy and practice
  2. Mind-body interventions, or techniques designed to facilitate the mind's effect on bodily functions and symptoms
  3. Herbalism
  4. Manipulative and body-based methods, such as chiropractic and massage therapy
  5. Energy therapies


For a description of each of these categories, visit NCCAM.

The most prominent CAM therapies and health systems

Naturopathic Medicine

"Naturopathic physicians practice traditional healing methods, principles and practices. Naturopathic physician's view their role as to identify and remove barriers to good health by helping to create a healing internal and external environment. Naturopathic physicians work in private practices, hospitals, clinics and community health centers. NDs practice throughout the United States and Canada."- American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Practitioner

"A TCM Practitioner can offer acupuncture treatments along with herbal diagnosis in one session. Generally TCM Practitioners have extended clinical practice, theoretical knowledge and advanced training in acupuncture which incorporates Chinese medicinal herbs." – National Institute of Health

Medical Massage

"Medical massage therapists combine their medical massage training and experience to evaluate a patient's medical condition and decide on a path for treatment. The outcome-based nature of the therapy means that medical massage therapists focus on the particular injury or source of pain and apply specific treatments to help relieve the patient's condition." – National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Last Updated: 8/18/16