Complementary medicine is a fusion between traditional and more obscure therapies, while alternative medicine is usually defined as one that breaks with the modern scientific tradition. Therefore, Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) entails types of treatments that do not entirely rely on the dictates of mainstream healthcare. The following paper is a discussion board post intended to describe the methods of CAM and discuss their reliability and effectiveness.
Methods of CAM and Their Effectiveness
Some of the common examples of CAM are homeopathy, chiropractic, and acupuncture. Homeopathy is a CAM in which highly diluted substances believed to aid the body in healing are used. In a systematic review, Viksveen et al. (2018) established that homeopathy was showing better results than placebos and was reported to be similar to antidepressants as the patients claimed a reduction of depressive episodes. The study by Viksveen et al. (2018) acknowledged limited evidence to support homeopathy. In the U.K., National Health Service (2022) states that the effectiveness of homeopathy lacks good-quality evidence for the treatment or managing of diseases. Therefore, there is a lack of sufficient research to augment homeopathy as an evidence-based practice.
On the other hand, chiropractic is a manipulative treatment of misaligned joints, such as the spinal cord. Studies show that it is more effective when used as a complementary medication rather than an alternative (Goertz et al., 2018; Axen et al., 2018). For example, in a 3-site pragmatic comparative clinical trial on the effectiveness of chiropractic, Goertz et al. (2018) found out it was effective in complementing normal care. It resulted in a short-term improvement of cases of low back pain and disability (Goertz et al., 2018). Eklund et al. (2018) found that chiropractic reduced the number of days for bothersome low back pain compared to conventional symptom-guided care.
Finally, acupuncture is a system of complementary medicine in which fine needles are inserted into the skin at specific points to treat diverse mental and physical conditions. A review of the literature by Yang et al. (2020) showed that it has a positive therapeutic effect on patients suffering from nerve injury. The antipyretic effect in the case of diseases of the muscular and skeletal systems, the decrease in the overall level of pain, as well as the relief of the patient’s condition in the case of malignant tumors were noted by experts. Therefore, based on the findings, such methods may be proven effective when used as an addition to conventional medicine.
The three ideals of CAM are the provision of natural treatment, a patient rather than disease-focused approach, and a holistic approach to care. Natural treatment implies that the body is supported to heal itself without introducing external agents such as chemicals or invasive procedures (Agarwal, 2018). The rationale is to ensure less harm and the strengthening of innate processes to fight diseases and other forms of disabilities. Patient rather than disease-focused approach stresses the need for the care process to go beyond the specific disease. It is about the introduction of healthy lifestyles and practices that empower the body to deal with different diseases. As a result, treatment does not just target the disease afflicting the patient at the time but the entire body’s wellness (Agarwal, 2018). Finally, the holistic approach is about care designed to ensure the patient experiences physical, social, and psychological healing and well-being.
My Opinion on CAM before and after Reading and Discussion
Before reading the chapter, I had an opinion of CAM and was convinced that it had no place in the modern world where research evidence has shown the superiority of conventional medicine. Following the readings and discussions in class, my opinion has changed from a low perspective to respect for CAM. The rationale for the change is the fact that the discussions have made me realize that CAM does not compete with conventional medicine; instead, it complements it and may enhance its effectiveness. The three ideals of natural treatment, focusing on the patient rather than the disease, and embodying a holistic approach to care are critical underpinnings for wellness. The complementary effect of CAM practices approves the possibility of its usage in modern medicine.
Agarwal, V. (2018). Complementary and alternative medicine provider knowledge discourse on holistic health. Frontiers in Communication.
Axén, I., Eklund, A., Jensen, I., Hagberg, J., Kongsted, A., Leboeuf-Yde, C., & Lohela-Karlsson, M. (2018). The Nordic Maintenance Care program: Effectiveness of chiropractic maintenance care versus symptom-guided treatment for recurrent and persistent low back pain—A pragmatic randomized controlled trial. PloS one, 13(9), e0203029.
Goertz, C. M., Long, C. R., Vining, R. D., Pohlman, K. A., Walter, J., & Coulter, I. (2018). Effect of usual medical care plus chiropractic care vs. usual medical care alone on pain and disability among US service members with low back pain: a comparative effectiveness clinical trial. JAMA Network Open, 1(1), e180105-e180105.
National Health Service. (2022). Complementary and alternative medicine.
Viksveen, P., Fibert, P., & Relton, C. (2018). Homeopathy is the treatment of depression: a systematic review. European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 22(1), 22-36.
Yang, F. M., Yao, L., Wang, S. J., Guo, Y., Xu, Z. F., Zhang, C. H.,… & Liu, Y. Y. (2020). Current tracking on effectiveness and mechanisms of acupuncture therapy: a literature review of high-quality studies. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, 26(4), 310-320.