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Five Categories of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

In the United States there is an organization called the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, also known as NCCAM. This organization is a government agency and its job is to explore practices of CAM every way. They do the research, train the researchers and release information to the professionals and to the public.

This organization of course knows about all different sorts of CAM and knows how lost someone can be when searching for treatment and therefore the organizations has taken the liberty of classifying these types within five different categories. This helps the common people to distinguish one type from another and helps to keep the oversight.

First there are the Alternative Medical Systems. These are complete systems of practice and theory. Usually these systems have been evolving earlier and apart from conventional medicine. Enlisted within this category are acupuncture, ayurveda, homeopathy, naturopathic medicine, Native American healing practices, Chinese medicine and Tibetan medicine.

The second category consist of mind-body interventions. These use a wide range of different techniques to increase the capacity of the mind to have an effect on the functions of the body and symptoms of complaints. Some of these treatments have actually evolved to mainstream treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy and patient support groups.

The third category is the one of Biologically Based Therapies. The treatments are using natural found substances for treatments, like food, vitamins and herbs. Examples of treatments are diets, herbal products, megavitamins and dietary supplements.

In the fourth category we have Manipulative and Body-Based Methods. The treatments are based on the movement and/or manipulation of one or multiple bodyparts. Examples for these treatments are acupressure, chiropractic, Feldenkrais method, Alexander technique, osteopathy, rolfing, Trager approach, massage therapy, reflexology and therapeutic touch. Striking in this category is that massage therapy and chiropractic are enlisted. These are treatments which have been generally accepted for years and have evolved from alternative treatments to regular treatments.

In the fifth and last category we find the energy therapies. This form of treatment have everything to do with using energy fields. Within this category there are two subcategories. Biofield therapies, these treatments mean to have an effect on the energy fields surrounding and penetrating the body. The presence of these fields have no scientific proof. Examples in this subcategory would be Qi gong, Therapeutic touch and reiki. Second in this subcategory is the bio-electromagnetic-based therapies which are using electromagnetic fields for treatments. Examples for these treatments are magnetic fields, pulsed fields and alternating current or direct-current fields.

Knowing there has been made an effort to divide the treatments into categories, it shows that the United States Government is taking CAM more and more seriously. It is nice to know that investments are being made for the research on healthcare other than chemical based treatments.


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