Assignment: Alternative Medicine
Complementary medicine refers to using a non-mainstream approach together with conventional medicine. Alternative medicine refers to using a non-mainstream approach in place of conventional medicine. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a broad range of modalities outside the traditional Western medicine approach to care (see Box 4.1). Folk medicine, or the use of traditional remedies, is considered to be a form of complementary and alternative medicine. Folk remedies include, but are not limited to long-existing practices, such as Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and naturopathy, to name a few. The history and utilization of CAM, along with culturally based CAM modalities and related laws, are the focus of this chapter.
BOX 4.1 CAM Systems of Health Care
I. Alternative health care systems Ayurvedic medicine Chiropractic Homeopathic medicine American Indian medicine (e.g., sweat lodge, medicine wheel) Naturopathic medicine Traditional Chinese medicine (e.g., acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine)
II. Mind–body interventions Meditation Hypnosis Guided imagery Dance therapy Music therapy
Art therapy Prayer and mental healing
III. Biological-based therapies Herbal therapies Special diets (e.g., macrobiotics, extremely low fat or high carbohydrate diets) Orthomolecular medicine (e.g., megavitamin therapy) Individual biological therapies (e.g., shark cartilage, bee pollen)
IV. Therapeutic massage, body work, and somatic movement therapies Massage Feldenkrais Alexander method
V. Energy therapies Qigong Reiki Therapeutic touch
VI. Bioelectromagnetics Magnet therapy
Source: White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy (2002).
History of Complementary and Alternative Medicine
CAM predates the history of the United States. Prior to the latter part of the 19th century, medical care was provided by lay healers, naturopaths, homeopaths, midwives, and botanical healers as well as formally trained doctors. Nineteenth-century advances in science, such as germ theory, antisepsis, and anesthesia, spurred the trend to scientific medical education. Nonconventional treatments were marginalized in the first half of the 20th century after Abraham Flexner’s 1910 report on the need for standardization in medical education. Interest in whole foods and dietary supplements in the 1950s began a resurgence of interest in alternative medical practices. The traditional health practices of immigrant cultures exposed Americans to alternatives, and the counterculture movements of the 1960s renewed the interest in natural healing practices. In the 1970s, the holistic health approach began incorporating Eastern medical traditions with conventional Western medical practices (White House Commission, 2002).
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