The popularity of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is most certainly on the rise. Many people now successfully use supplements on a daily basis, seek out acupuncture, chiropractic or naturopathic care, and have experienced massage for relief of health problems. The “natural” section of grocery stores is growing as are the number of online and in-store supplement centers.
In fact, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a division of the National Institutes of Health, states that in 2008, 38 percent of American adults have tried some form of CAM therapy.
Does this percentage include you? You may be using CAM therapies and not even realize it. Many people take supplements on a regular basis such as fish oil for their heart health, Vitamin C for their immune system, probiotics for their intestines, and Vitamin D as it seems to be good for everything (slight exaggeration of course, but there is a lot of good research).
The NCCAM defines CAM as “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine.” This is different from integrative medicine where conventional medicine and alternative medicine are used together.
There is a list provided by the NCCAM of the most commonly accepted CAM therapies which includes:
- Diet-based therapy (e.g., Atkins and South Beach)
- Deep breathing
- Pilates and other movement-based therapies
- Natural products
- Tai chi
This means if you regularly practice yoga or Pilates, receive massage, take your vitamins and eat a South Beach diet you are one of the 38 percent using CAM.
Alternative medicine is commonly used for a variety of issues including musculoskeletal pain, immune support, thyroid, fertility, stress, energy, headaches, hormones balance, skin conditions, mental emotional needs, autoimmune, weight loss, and of course the list could go on.