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

Formerly known as National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) that was created by Congress in 1998, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is the main agency in the 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. The change was made in order to reflecting more on general American’s health approaches. More people are adapting integrative health care, which is combining complementary into conventional medicine, instead of choosing the alternative medicine alone in place of conventional treatment. [1][2]

The use of integrative approaches to health and wellness has growing within care settings across the United States. Researchers are currently exploring the potential benefits of integrative health in a various situation such as pain management for military personnel and veterans, relief of symptoms in cancer patients and survivors, and programs to promote healthy behaviours. [2]

The complementary health approaches are separated into two main categories which are natural products and mind and body practices as shown in Table 4. [2]

Table 4: Classification of complementary health by NCCIH

TypeExample of practices
Natural products   They are widely marketed, readily available to consumers, and often sold as dietary supplements.Herbs (also known as botanicals) Vitamins and minerals Probiotics
Mind and body practices   Include a large and diverse group of procedures or techniques administered or taught by a trained practitioner or teacherYoga Chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation Meditation Acupuncture Relaxation techniques (such as breathing exercises, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation) Tai chi Qi gong Hypnotherapy Feldenkrais method Alexander technique Pilates Rolfing structural integration Trager psychophysical integration
Other complementary health   Complementary approaches that not neatly fit into either of those groupsTraditional healers’ practice Ayurvedic medicine Traditional Chinese Medicine Homeopathy Naturopathy Functional medicine
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, USA, 2007.
Note: The definitions in italic are direct quotation from the source.


  1. National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health (NCCIH). What does NCCIH do?. [homepage on the Internet].  [updated 2021 Apr 27: cited 2021 Apr 27]. Available from: 
  2. National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health (NCCIH). Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s In a Name?. [homepage on the Internet]. [updated 2018 Jul; cited 2021 Apr 21]. Available from: 
in this scope
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