The National Institute of Health (NIH) defines Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) as a broad range of systems of healing that are not characteristically regarded as a component of the typical or conventional Western medicine (NCCIH, 2021). While the goal of conventional Western medicine is to pursue the cause of a given disease and treat it, CAM practitioners often take a holistic perspective of healthcare. CAM practitioners argue that health embodies an intricate interaction of spiritual, social, genetic, emotional, physical, environmental, and mental factors. As such, CAM considers a whole person when treating a disease or promoting good health (Kemppainen et al., 2018). Complementary medicines in CAM are therapies used alongside the conventional treatment to augment the treatment outcome while CAM therapies used as a substitute to conventional treatment connotes alternative in the CAM approach. CAM therapies are given by a differing group of experts and lay care providers who possess diverse academic credentials, regulatory supervision, educational prerequisites, cultural context, and geographical location.
Concerning the use of CAM, the typical person who uses CAM is likely to be well-educated, female, wealthy, and middle-aged. Concerning health, people who use CAM tend to have numerous medical conditions or general ill-health (Tangkiatkumjai et al., 2020). Patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, cancer, and diabetes often need proper healthcare management, including CAM. Moreover, patients with specific conditions such as Asthma are likely to rely entirely on CAM to prevent triggers and allergies that lead to asthma attacks. Essentially, there is no conventional medicine that treats asthma. As such, CAM is essential in improving the quality of life in asthmatic patients.
Kemppainen, L. M., Kemppainen, T. T., Reippainen, J. A., Salmenniemi, S. T., & Vuolanto, P. H. (2018). Use of complementary and alternative medicine in Europe: Health-related and sociodemographic determinants. Scandinavian journal of public health, 46(4), 448-455. https://doi.org/10.1177/1403494817733869
NCCIH. (2021). Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s In a Name?. Retrieved from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/complementary-alternative-or-integrative-health-whats-in-a-name.
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Tangkiatkumjai, M., Boardman, H., & Walker, D. M. (2020). Potential factors that influence usage of complementary and alternative medicine worldwide: a systematic review. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, 20(1), 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-020-03157-2
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