To understand what complementary alternative medicine is, you must first understand what is alternative medicine. For starters this type of medicine is the opposite of conventional medicine. It does not involve pharmaceuticals, surgery or chemicals. For example, hydrocodone for back pain would be a conventional approach for back pain, whereas massage therapy would be considered an alternative approach to this form of pain.
Complementary alternative medicine, a term used by NCCIH (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) refers to non-traditional approaches that involve both alternative products, such as vitamins and supplements, as well as alternative body practices, such as massage therapy. The term “integrative health” refers to taking alternative approaches and incorporating them into mainstream health care. By researching and understanding alternative approaches we can better include them into mainstream approaches.
The use of alternative medicine and methods to help those in military situations, cancer patients and the general public are becoming more and more a part of a society that is beginning to put a greater focus on health and wellness.
1. Military Personnel
Those active in the military, as well as military veterans, often complain of chronic pain as a result of active duty or as a result of the duty that has been completed. Organizations such as NCCIH and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are funding programs to introduce alternative methods such as meditation, hypnosis and massage therapy to help veterans reduce their dependence on traditional pain medications.
2. Cancer Patients
There is a laundry list of pain medications that cancer patients take, many of which come with severe and debilitating side effects. Alternative approaches such as massage therapy and yoga have been studied, introduced and funded for short-term improvements in pain management for cancer patients.
3. The General Public
An ongoing education effort, involving research and studies, to promote healthy behaviors to the public, funded by NCCIH and other organizations, are underway. The goal is to educate the public on the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, exercising, not smoking, getting enough sleep, etc.
In addition to helping the public understand the benefits, the goal is also to reduce the risk of people developing serious diseases.
Continued research by NCCIH is being done on the effectiveness of alternative products as well as the effectiveness of mind and body practices. These are the main parts of complementary alternative medicine. Other approaches are studied as well, such as homeopathy.
By exploring alternative medicines and practices, they will continue to move more and more into mainstream society, reducing the need for traditional medicine and the associated approaches. The NCCIH encourages the public to not only educate themselves on alternative medicine and methods but also to discuss these medicines and approaches with doctors.
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P.S: Supplements are also popular forms of alternative medicine. When diet and lifestyle changes alone don’t do enough to restore your immune system, try supplementing with thymus protein supplements and boost your immune system back to its youthful level.
Source: Alternative Health Concepts