The following paper will define alternative medicine, complementary medicine, and integrative medicine. It will describe how conventional medicine plays a role in these three terms. In addition, it will review the philosophy of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and how it is different from conventional Western medicine and a description of the five domains of therapy. Finally, it will show how CAM treatment modality Ayurveda is used as an alternative therapy and a complementary therapy for obesity.
Alternative, Complementary, and Integrative Medicine Alternative, complementary and integrative medicine uses CAM in a variety of ways, which is why these terms differ. According to National Institutes of Health (2010): “Alternative medicine” refers to use of CAM in place of conventional medicine. “Complementary medicine” refers to use of CAM together with conventional medicine, such as using acupuncture in addition to usual care to help lessen pain. Most use of CAM by Americans is complementary.
“Integrative medicine” (also called integrated medicine) refers to a practice that combines both conventional and CAM treatments for which there is evidence of safety and effectiveness (Defining CAM, para. 2). The Role of Conventional Medicine According to National Institutes of Health (2010), Conventional medicine (also called Western or allopathic medicine) is medicine as practiced by holders of M. D. (medical doctor) and D. O. (doctor of osteopathy) degrees and by allied health professionals, such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses (Defining CAM, para.1).
Alternative medicine is any healing therapy that does not coincide or is not effective with conventional medicine. Alternative medicine is not based on scientific data; rather it focuses on the cultural or historic principles of healing. Complementary medicine is combined with mainstream techniques and complements conventional treatments. Integrative medicine combines the use of alternative and conventional medicine. This form of medical treatment has been scientifically researched and proven to be efficient.
Philosophy of Conventional Medicine versus CAM Conventional medicine has a uni-dimensional or allopathic philosophical approach to treating medical illnesses. It focuses on the body alone whereas CAM is multi-dimensional and focuses on the body, mind, and spirit. The goals of CAM are to maintain health, prevent illness, and ensure the patient is an active contributor to the healing process. The goals of conventional medicine are to cure illnesses immediately and to ensure the patient passive while receiving treatment. The category of CAM is extremely broad.
Five domains of CAM therapies are natural products, mind-body medicine, manipulative and body-based practices, traditional healers, and whole medical systems. Natural products focus on herbal treatment and dietary changes. Mind-body medicine includes the practice of meditation, yoga and the procedures of acupuncture as a healing method. Manipulative and body-based practices include spinal manipulation and massage therapy. According to National Institutes of Health (2010), “traditional healers use methods based on indigenous theories, beliefs, and experiences handed down from generation to generation” (Other CAM Practices, para.
2). “Finally, whole medical systems, which are complete systems of theory and practice that have evolved over time in different cultures and apart from conventional or Western medicine, may be considered CAM” (Other CAM Practices, para. 4). CAM Treatment Modality for Obesity Currently, Ayurveda is classified as CAM under the whole medical system. Ayurvedic integrates the mind, body, and spirit to prevent and treat illnesses and diseases (National Institutes of Health, 2010).
This practice has limited clinical trials and it lacks the scientific evidence needed to support its effectiveness and despite its lack of proof, it is one of the oldest healing systems known to man. According to University of Vermont (2006), “Ayurveda is both a complementary and an alternative medicine” (Ayurveda as CAM, para. 6). In obesity, the conventional treatment is the use of drugs such as the diet pill ephedra (University of Vermont, 2006). This method has many side effects and the weight may come back.
The alternative method focuses on a lifestyle and diet change along with herbal treatments for a healthier transition and lasting results. The complementary method would include an invasive approach such as bariatric surgery. Although this procedure reduces the size of one’s stomach, the above alternative methods may be used to strength the body and ensure longer-lasting results. Conclusion In the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), alternative medicine, complementary medicine, and integrative medicine are used in a variety of ways and may be incorporated into conventional medicine.
Although CAM and conventional medicine have different philosophies, the use of both methods can successfully solve a variety of health issues such as obesity. Reference National Institutes of Health. (2010). The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved from http://nccam. nih. gov/health/whatiscam/ University of Vermont. (2006). Ayurvedic Herbalism. Retrieved from http://www. uvm. edu/~dlim/Ayurveda/home. html