Complementary and Alternative Medicine



Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are systems, practices, and products that are used in conjunction with or in place of conventional medicine.

  • Integrative medicine is the coordinated combination of complementary medicine with conventional medicine.
  • Examples:
    • Meditation, mindfulness, relaxation
    • Yoga
    • Specialized diets
    • Herbal supplements
    • Massage
    • Osteopathic manipulative therapy
    • Chiropractic therapy
    • Ayurveda
    • Qigong
    • Tai chi
  • Common reasons patients choose CAM
    • Additive therapy to address issues not covered by conventional medical treatment
    • Conventional medicine has been unsuccessful in fully addressing the ailment.
    • Preventative health care and/or a desire for a more holistic/natural/noninvasive approach to well-being
    • Concern about medication side effects
    • Cultural or familial belief systems


  • The most common use is among 30- to 69-year-old females (1).
  • CAM is most frequently used to treat musculoskeletal issues; 59–90% of patients claim that the use of alternative therapy helped their chronic pain (1).

Estimated 70% of North Americans have tried at least one form of CAM.

Commonly Associated Conditions

Acute/chronic pain, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, insomnia, fatigue, cancer-related symptoms and treatment side effects, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), depression/anxiety, low libido, weight loss, asthma, eczema, tinnitus, autoimmune disease

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