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Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

  • “Complementary  and alternative medicine (CAM) refers to a broad set of health-care practices that are not part of a country’s own tradition and not integrated into the dominant health care system. Other terms sometimes used to describe these health care practices include ‘natural medicine’, ‘non-conventional medicine’ and ‘holistic medicine”.(1)
  • Complementary and alternative medicine, as defined by the National Centre for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.(2)
  • “Complementary/alternative therapy is a broad domain of healing resource that encompasses health systems, modalities, and practices and their accompanying theories and beliefs, other than those intrinsic to the dominant health system of a particular society or culture in a given historical period. CAM includes all such practices and ideas self-defined by their users as preventing or treating illness or promoting health and well-being.” (3)
  1. WHO. (2000). General Guidelines for Methodology on Research and Evaluation of Traditional Medicine. Geneva : WHO. World Health Organization (WHO). Geneva (document reference WHO/EDM/TRM/2000.1)
  2. What is complementary and alternative medicine? Retrieved from (4 August 2006)
  3. O’Connor BB, Calabrese C, Cardeña E, Eisenberg D, Fincher J, Hufford DJ, Jonas WB, Kaptchuk T, Martin SC, Scott AW, Zhang X (Panel on Definition and Description, CAM Research Methodology Conference, April 1995). Defining and describing complementary and alternative medicine. 1997;3(2):49-57 (cited in Ministerial Advisory Committee on Complementary & Alternative Health. Terminology in Complementary and Alternative Health. 2002).