Model C : US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) - Representation of the spectrum of modalities

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) [i] is the main agency in USA responsible for scientific research on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). It is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

NCCAM categorizes the CAM into 5 major categories. The categorization is a representation of the spectrum of modalities based upon the different characteristics.


Table 4: Categorization by US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.[ii]




Whole Medical System

Whole Medical System involves complete systems of theory and practice that have evolved independently from or parallel to allopathic (conventional) medicine. These systems are based on the belief that one’s body has the power to heal itself. Healing often involves marshalling multiple techniques that involve the mind, body, and spirit. Treatment is often individualized and dependent on the presenting symptoms.

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Ayurveda medicine
  • Homeopathy
  • Naturopathy

Mind Body Medicine

Mind-body medicine typically focuses on intervention strategies that are thought to promote health.

  • Relaxation
  • Hypnosis
  • Visual imagery
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Biofeedback
  • Tai chi
  • Qi gong
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapies
  • Group support
  • Autogenic training
  • Spirituality

Biological Based Therapie

Biologically based therapies use substances found in nature, such as herbs, foods, and vitamins.

  • Dietary supplements
  • Herbal products
  • Use of other so-called natural but as yet scientifically unproven therapies

Manipulative and Body based Practices

Manipulative and body-based practices focus primarily on the structures and systems of the body, including the bones and joints, the soft tissues, and the circulatory and lymphatic systems. Some practices were derived from traditional systems of medicine such as those from China, India or Egypt while others were developed within the last 150 years such as chiropractic and osteopathy. Manipulative and body based practices has same principles that the human body is self-regulating and has the ability to heal itself and that the parts of the human body are interdependent. Practitioners in all these therapies also tend to tailor their treatments to the specific needs of each patient.

  • Chiropractic
  • Osteopathy
  • Massage therapy

Energy Therapies

  • Veritable
  • Mechanical  vibration

The presumptive basis of its effect is that specific sound frequencies resonate with specific organs of the body to heal and support the body

  • Sound



Bioelectromagnetic based therapie

Bioelectromagnetic-based therapies involve the unconventional use of electromagnetic

fields, such as pulsed fields, magnetic fields, or alternating-current or direct-current fields.

  • Light Therapy
  • Laser beams
  • Monochromatic light therapy
  • Rays from other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum

Putative (also known as Biofields)

  • Putative energy fields have defied measurement to date by reproducible methods.
  • Based on the concept that human beings are infused with a subtle form of energy. This vital energy or life force is known under different names in different culture.
  • Intended to affect energy fields that purportedly surround and penetrate the human body.
  • The existence of such fields has not yet been scientifically proven.
  • Some forms of energy therapy manipulate biofields by applying pressure and/or manipulating the body by placing the hands in, or through, these fields.


  • Reiki
  • Johrei
  • Qi Gong
  • Therapeutic Touch
  • Intercessory prayer
  • Acupuncture
  • Homeopathy
  • Johrei,
  • Vortex healing,
  • Polarity therapy

Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, USA, 2007.

Note: The definitions in italic are direct quotation from the source.

  1. About NCCAM. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved from [6 July 2007
  2. What is CAM? National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. [6 July 2007]