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What is Complementary and Alternative Medicine?






     If you've heard about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) before, you may have wondered what exactly it is and what it entails. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to define what CAM is in basic terms because the field is incredibly broad and diverse. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, CAM is a "group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine."

Conventional medicine is what is practiced by members of the mainstream medical community: medical doctors, doctors of osteopathic medicine, and other health care professionals. CAM actually encompasses two forms of medicine, where "complementary" refers to medical treatments that are used in conjunction with conventional medicine, and "alternative" refers to treatments that are used in lieu of conventional medicine.

Types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Because of today's movement toward natural living and whole-body wellness, CAM has become more popular among Americans. People are now more willing to explore one or more types of CAM when it comes to relieving discomfort caused by various health conditions, from neck or back pain, gastrointestinal issues, and others.

Some of the most common types of CAM treatments include:

Herbal supplements

Vitamins

Probiotics

Hypnotherapy

Meditation

Tai chi

Qi gong

Reiki

Acupuncture, yoga, massage therapy, and chiropractic spinal manipulation are treatments that fall into the top 10 most used CAM therapies by adult Americans, according to information culled during a 2007 National Health Interview Survey. Let's explore a few of these in more depth.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese treatment that involves the insertion of hair-thin, surgical steel needles into various points of the body to help relieve pain. The Chinese believe that each person has life energy, or qi, that flows throughout the body in channels called meridians. Practitioners of acupuncture maintain that disruptions to the flow of qi are thought to be the root cause of all disease. The needles are inserted to stimulate and release blockages of qi, which is said to relieve pain and restore health.

Yoga

You may have thought yoga was just a form of exercise, but some individuals experience interesting health improvements after practicing it. At its core, yoga involves physical posturing and muscle stretching, combined with controlled breathing and meditation. Studies have shown that regular yoga practice can reduce stress and whole-body chronic inflammation, control high blood pressure, ease neck and back pain, and reduce depression symptoms.

Massage Therapy

Too often, massage is simply viewed as way to unwind or as an occasional treat, but massage is also an effective CAM treatment. Therapeutic massage involves manually manipulating muscles to relieve tension and ease pain, and it can also help release stored toxins and waste that have built up in muscle fibers over time. Individuals with conditions such as neck pain, back pain, fibromyalgia, and even people with the occasional sore muscle every now and then, can benefit from massage.

Spinal Manipulation

Spinal manipulation, or chiropractic adjustment, is performed by chiropractors and involves applying a controlled force to realign the bones and muscles of the spine. Adjustment is used to relieve pain, restore mobility in dysfunctional joints and tissues, and promote overall health. While spinal manipulation rarely causes pain, it can result in pops and cracks, which can be shocking for a patient to hear during an adjustment. These noises simply come from the release of gasses in joints that have been stuck, not from bones cracking.

Before You Try Any CAM Treatments

It's important to always check with your doctor before you begin any complementary and alternative medicine treatment plan. This is especially necessary to avoid potentially dangerous side effects that can develop by mixing medicines, herbs, or other treatments that interact poorly with each other.

Taylor Thomas is an experienced writer who has written for a number of notable publications. As a lifestyle expert, Mr. Thomas is able to offer advice and insight on a multitude of topics, including those pertaining to alternative treatments.

Taylor Thomas is an experienced writer who has written for a number of notable publications. As a lifestyle expert, Mr. Thomas is able to offer advice and insight on a multitude of topics, including those pertaining to alternative treatments. http://www.laserspinewellness.com/




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Taylor Thomas is an experienced writer who has written for a number of notable publications. As a lifestyle expert, Mr. Thomas is able to offer advice and insight on a multitude of topics, including those pertaining to alternative treatments.


Posted on 2013-06-05, By: *

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