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The National Institutes of Health’s Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

CAM is defined as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine.

Conventional medicine (also called ‘Western’ or ‘allopathic medicine’) is medicine practiced by MDs (medical doctors) and Dos (doctors of osteopathy), as well as allied health providers such as chiropractic physicians, acupuncturists, and psychologists. There are no absolute boundaries between CAM and conventional medicine, and CAM practices are utilized by approximately 38% of Americans.

Complementary medicine refers to the use of CAM together with conventional medicine.

Alternative medicine refers to the use of CAM in place of conventional medicine.

Integrative medicine refers to a practice that combines both conventional and CAM treatments for which there is evidence of safety and effectiveness.

CAM practices include the following categories (some useful links are also provided):

Natural Products

Mind-Body Medicine

Manipulative and Body-Based Practices

Other CAM Practices

For more information, you can visit NCCM’s website:
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCM) http://nccam.nih.gov/
NCCM is 1 of 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NCCM is the Federal Government’s lead agency for scientific research on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).


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