An Overview of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

An Overview of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Annalisa Casarin (The NIHR Research Design Service East of England, UK), Mayuree Tangkiatkumjai (Srinakharinwirot University, Thailand) and Dawn-Marie Walker (University of Southampton, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7039-4.ch001
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A treatment that is not recognised as conventional medicine is frequently referred to as part of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) methods. This Chapter will provide an overview of the several CAM definitions currently proposed and the types of CAM methods. The prevalence of CAM use and the characteristics and attitudes of CAM users will be also explored with a focus on patients with kidney diseases. The reasons for CAM use and the literature on the placebo effects as a debated hypothesis of CAM mechanism of action is presented.
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Definition Of Complementary And Alternative Medicine

A complementary technique is considered as one which falls beyond the scope of orthodox medicine, but which may be used alongside it ( [last accessed 17/03/17]), while an alternative method may be used instead of conventional medicine. Whether a healing method is considered as a CAM depends on the context, or culture in which is used. For example, herbal medicine is considered as traditional and integrative in China, and complementary or alternative in Europe. In regards to context, herbs can be used as a complementary therapy for infertility whilst they can be used as an alternative treatment to medications for urological conditions. In cases of incurable conditions, like end stage kidney failure where only conventional treatment will save the patient, CAM can be offered in order to relieve symptoms associated with the technique or the disease (Barnes et al., 2008). In this case the techniques may be considered complementary because they cannot be offered as alternative to dialysis. Another term frequently used and recently adopted to indicate a combination of CAM techniques and conventional medicine is integrative. In this case, Asian countries led the way in adopting the integration between systems. As Bodeker stated (2001), the Asian experience should be used by western countries when developing policies for integrating two health systems. Chapter 10 will explore the integration concept in depth.

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