Definition of complementary and alternative medicine
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the popular term for health and wellness therapies that have typically not been part of conventional Western medicine. Complementary means treatments that are used along with conventional medicine. Alternative means treatments used in place of conventional medicine.
CAM focuses on the whole person and includes physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. For example, CAM includes mind-body medicine (such as meditation, acupuncture and yoga), manipulative and body-based practices (such as massage therapy and spinal manipulation), and natural products (such as herbs and dietary supplements).
Most CAM studies in the U.S. show that few people forgo conventional medicine. So the term “integrative medicine” is increasingly preferred. Integrative medicine combines, or integrates, the best of conventional medical care with the best of evidence-based CAM.