Alternative Medicine

Alternative medicine, complementary and alternative medicine, generally refers to using a non-mainstream approach in place of or together with the conventional, Western, medicine. Integrative medicine, which is also called integrative health, consists of the alternative medicine, complementary and alternative medicine, and conventional medicine.

Alternative medicine, complementary and alternative medicine, has been traditionally provided, in each area and in each country, to gain healing effects.

The US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of National Institute of Health (NIH), established in 1998, states that it is “a group of diverse medical and health care system, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine.”

A study published in 1998 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 42% of Americans had used complementary and alternative therapies, up from 34% in 1990.

The NCCAM mainly uses:

  1. National products – including, herbs, vitamins, minerals and probiotics.
  2. Mind and body practices – including acupuncture, massage therapy, mindfulness medicine or transcendental meditation,  movement therapies, relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises, guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation, spinal manipulation, Tai chi and gi gong, and yoga
  3. Others – such as ayurvedic medicine from India, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy and naturopathy


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Reference:  NCCAM Pub. No. D156, May 2002, and JAMA 1998, 280 (189): 1569-75


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