CAM, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, is an official health care that runs parallel with mainstream medicine with little interaction between the two; however this is changing. CAM has been around for centuries and in the modern world has become increasingly popular. Doctors are now embracing CAM therapies too, often combining them with traditional medicine, spawning the term ‘integrative medicine’.
CAM practitioners can include nutritionist, naturopaths, acupuncturist, homeopathy, herbal medicine practitioners and ancient healing systems. The mind-body medicine technique strengthens the communication between your mind and your body to provide harmony for you to stay healthy. The use of dietary supplements and herbal remedies, treatments using ingredients found in nature, including echinacea, teas, oils, syrups, calcium supplement and glucosamine sulfate.
Contrary to recent popularity, some conventional doctors practicing today don’t receive training in CAM or integrative medicine, so they may not feel comfortable making recommendation or addressing questions in this area. At the moment there is still alot of stigma against the CAM profession, especially from the older generation health professionals. There is also the incorrect, misleading media attention that gets attracted from CAM practitioners in the industry that aren’t keeping their knowledge up to date or providing professional practices that gives all CAM health professionals a bad reputation. It seems easy to condemn the whole profession as it’s not regulated as a constant across the country; it’s up to the individual to keep their professionalism.
In addition, some CAM practitioners make exaggerated claims about curing diseases, and some ask you to forgo treatment from your conventional doctor; both are considered crimes against professional legislation in Australia and offer high penalties.
At the moment there is little evidence about CAM practices due to lack of research as carefully controlled medical studies are costly. Trials for conventional therapies are often funded by big companies that develop and sell the drugs. Fewer resources are available to support trials for CAM therapies.
If your still unsure whether to try a CAM practice consider talking to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any therapy you’re considering. It’s especially important to involve your doctor if you are pregnant, have medical problems or take prescription medicine. Importantly don’t stop or change your conventional medications without consulting your doctor first. Finally, be sure to keep your doctor updated on any alternative therapies your using, including herbal or dietary supplements.
For more information on CAM practices and legislations please review the following links.