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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 http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam/ (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).