Thursday, August 7, 2008

Five Domains of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Five Domains of CAM
Complimentary and alternative medicine is split into five domains, all of which have some overlap.

Whole Medical Systems

Whole medical systems are medical systems built upon a complete set of theories and practices that have developed independently of or parallel to conventional medical systems. Most whole medical systems are culture specific and developed much earlier than medical practices in the US. Major eastern whole medical systems include the following:

• Traditional Chinese medicine
• Ayuvreda
While major western whole medical systems include other types of medicine:
• Homeopathic medicine
• Naturopathic medicine

Other whole medical systems include Native American and Tibetan systems as well as ones that originate in Africa and South and Central America.

Mind Body Medicine
Mind body medicine seeks to use the mind’s capacity to affect physical change in a patient. Mind body medicine seeks to emphasize a person’s overall wellness in the treating of whatever physical ailment they may have. It focuses on teaching the patient how to be more self-aware, provides the tools necessary for self-care, and promotes techniques that will enhance those goals. The most popular mind body practices include the following:

• Meditation
• Yoga
• Tai chi
• Qi-qong
• Visual imagery
• Art, music, and dance therapy
• Hypnosis
• Cognitive behavior therapies
• Spirituality

Mind body medicine takes its cues from Eastern whole medical systems, like TCM and Ayurveda, that stress the importance of the mind and body being in harmony and looks at the mind and the body as one (not separate entities like much of Western medicine).

Biologically Based Practices

Biologically based practices treats disease with various chemicals or substances. The idea behind biological CAM methods is that whatever is wrong with the body can be treated by taking a certain dose of a particular substance. CAM biological practices include the use of, but are not limited to, the following:

• Proteins
• Prebiotics
• Fatty acids
• Probiotics
• Amino acids
• Botanicals
• Animal delivered extracts
• Vitamins
• Minerals
• Whole diets and functional foods

Dietary supplements are a subset of biologically based CAM procedures. Dietary supplements have always been a part of man’s practices to heal himself. They represent a multi-billion dollar industry that hasn’t been able to justify its success through scientific research and data. Researching dietary supplements has been difficult because of the lack of clinical trial material. According to the NCCAM, several difficulties exist:

• Influences of climate and soil
• Use of different parts of the plants
• Use of different cultivars and species
• Optimal growing, harvesting, and storage conditions
• Use of the whole extract or a specific fraction
• Method of extraction
• Chemical standardization of the product
• Bioavailability of the formulation
• Dose and length of administration

While there have been studies conducted on the effectiveness of dietary supplements, none of them have found any supplement that has proven effective in any concrete way. There are often vast differences between observable effects and what the data often show when the supplement is subject to clinical trials.

Manipulative and Body Based Practices
Manipulative and body based practices include CAM practices that involve manipulation or movement of the bodies structures, such as bones, joints, the lymphatic and circulatory systems as well as the soft tissues. Common manipulative and body based practices include the following:

• Acupressure
• Alexander Technique
• Chiropractic
• Feldenkrais Method
• Massage therapy
• Osteopathy
• Reflexology
• Rolfing
• Therapeutic Touch
• Trager Approach
• Bowen Technique
• Tui Na

Many manipulative and body based practices are based on ancient Chinese, Egyptian or Indian practices. Others, such as chiropractic and osteopathy, were created in the last 150 years. Procedures differ greatly based on the technique chosen. Massages concentrate on slow, focused movements, while chiropractic uses quick movements to manipulate areas of the spine. While their tactics may differ, manipulative and body based practitioners share the same belief that the body is self-regulating and has the ability to heal itself.

Energy Medicine

Energy medicine uses energy fields to treat illness. There are two kinds:

1. Veritable energies, such as electro-magnetic fields, use mechanical vibrations with specific wavelengths and frequencies to treat patients. Electromagnetic fields include the following:

• Pulsed fields
• Magnetic fields
• Alternating current fields
• Direct current fields
• Laser beams
• Visible light

2. Putative energies include biofields which can’t be measured. No scientific study has been able to verify the existence of biofields. CAM practices that involve biofields believe that the human body is full of a certain of energy that has to keep flowing for the body to function properly. Qi in TCM is an example of just such an energy. Ayurvedic medicine also believes that an energy called doshas are coursing through the body and must be maintained to maintain health. Even though these biofields have yet to be scientifically verified, therapists who use biofields to treat their patients say they can see and feel the energy and manipulate it to affect the health of their patients.


mind_bodyshop said...

The basic fact is that all sentient beings, particularly human beings want happiness and do not want pain and suffering.

sarah said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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Yoga traning thailand said...

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