Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) encompasses a wide range of self-treatments, provider-based therapies and health care professions that are different from the usual care delivered in the conventional medical system of medical doctors and hospitals.
More on CAM…www.nccam.nih.gov
Who uses CAM?
Many CAM practices have existed since pre-historic times and many of these continue to help patients in the modern era as well. For example, people in all cultures and in every era recognized medicinal properties of plants and how they could be used to treat sickness. It wasn’t until a scientific study was published in 1993 that serious attention came to be focused on CAM and the people who use it. Many research studies since that time have found that patients of all sorts use CAM: men, women, children, the chronically ill, patients with chronic pain, and people who simply want to be healthier.
More about who uses CAM…www.nccam.nih.gov
What science tells us about CAM?
It has been estimated that the number of visits to CAM providers is greater than visits to primary care doctors. Common sense would suggest that patients find CAM therapies helpful and they continue to use CAM. Until recently however, medical research has ignored CAM. Beginning in 1992 a branch of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) began funding research on CAM and it’s just a start. In 2008 the CAM research budget was $121 million out of the total NIH budget of over $28 billion.
More on CAM research here…www.nccam.nih.gov
Does CAM cost more or save money?
Many satisfied CAM patients have the experience of seeing significant cost saving by the use of CAM therapies. Back pain patients who have avoided back surgery by doing yoga, migraine sufferers who find relief with chiropractic care instead of medication, people with allergies who are relieved with acupuncture all can attest to not only the effectiveness of these therapies, but also note that they are less expensive than conventional medical care. A few scientific studies have begun to show a cost saving when CAM is used in place of or in combination with conventional medical care.
More on CAM here…www.medicalnewstoday.com or www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov