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Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) refers to diverse healthcare products and services considered to be outside the conventional medicine. CAM medicine comes in five categories namely, mind-body medicine, energy therapies, manipulative and body-based methods, whole medical systems and biologically-based therapies. According to the 2008 National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), people use alternative medicine as a replacement for conventional medicine whereas complimentary medicine accompanies traditional medicine. People use CAM to prevent or maintain illness and to treat an actual sickness. This essay seeks to explain why there is a need for the use of CAM in healthcare.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine leads the user to choose a healthy lifestyle by promoting their bodies’ wellness. Use of CAM incorporates practices such as reducing stress, engaging in regular exercise of the body together with the constant intake of a healthy diet. CAM users consider their health to be a personal responsibility hence there is a need for their body’s health to be in harmony with nature (Kraft, 2009). By taking a wholesome approach of ensuring the wellbeing of the body, mind, and spirit, health becomes a personal wellness activity. As part of self-care, CAM users always make positive health behaviors to their bodies. CAM users also engage in clear lifestyle choices, especially in health-related activities. Such users often avoid a highly technologically advanced medicine, which is usually costly. The effectiveness of CAM use offers their customers an opportunity to use relatively cheap alternate remedies while making less expensive health care choices.
However, one may argue against the use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine based on the gaps that the service presents. For instance, there is no evidence on the successful extensive range use of such medicine. Unlike evidence-based medicine that has substantial proof that can back it up, CAM seems to a gamble in the healthcare system (Chang & Gershwin, 2013). Apart from testimonials and information gathered from surveys, little evidence exists to support the use of such alternative medical services. Additionally, alternative medicine does not provide clear cost implications to its use. Cost implication acts as one of the measures of the effectiveness of such medication. National Health Interview Survey’s 2002 report states that besides the conventional medicine health care system, CAM consumers have already spent approximately $34 billion per year on medication. From the statistics, the cost seems to be high through the CAM system claims that the price is quite low compared to conventional medicine. Additionally, CAM users may become victims of inferior product quality with less effective treatment content coupled with the risk of long-term toxicity.
Nevertheless, with necessary actions, CAM proves to be the best alternative and supplement to conventional medicine. With integrative medicine, the best version of CAM can be achieved. Scientists and medical stakeholders need to take a keen look at CAM, break down the components of such medicine for analysis and in the end come up with the best version of CAM medicine (Ernst, 2009). Integrative medicine allows the interaction of CAM with evidence-based medicine in creating a diverse health care system. Such an interaction gets rid of the gaps in CAM while improving on conventional medicine. Therefore, despite the shortcomings within the Cam healthcare system, there is room for improvement and the creation of a better system.
Kraft, K. (2009). Complementary/Alternative Medicine in the context of prevention of disease and maintenance of health. Preventive medicine, 49(2-3), 88-92.
Chang, C., & Gershwin, M. E. (2013). Integrative medicine in allergy and immunology. Clinical reviews in allergy & immunology, 44(3), 208-228.
Ernst, E. (2009). Complementary and alternative medicine: between evidence and absurdity. Perspectives in biology and medicine, 52(2), 289-303.
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