Complementary Alternative Medicine[CAM] history


This paper provides a succinct overview of recent developments that may have facilitated the shaping of the current status of CAM. Complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) involves the utilization of alternative therapies jointly with what is regarded as conventional medicine. In order to understand the history of CAM, it is essential to make a comparison between alternative health-care and complementary care (Cuellar, 2006).

Part 1 History of CAM and Scope of Practice

Alternative Medical Systems

The alternative medical systems are structured upon absolute systems of practice and theory. These systems have developed independently from, and before the approach of conventional medical utilized in the U.S. Cases in point of the alternative medical systems that have evolved in the Western cultures include naturopathic medicine as well as homeopathic medicine. On the other hand, cases of systems that have evolved in the non-Western cultures comprise of Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine (Cuellar, 2006).

Biologically-Based Therapies

Biologically based therapies utilize substances that occur naturally and include individual biological therapies like utilization of shark cartilage in order to treat cancer, as well as glucosamine as a means to treat osteoarthritis. Other biologically based therapies comprise of diet therapy, chelation therapy, orthomolecular medicine, and herbal medicine. However, several biologically-based therapies such as shark cartilage in cancer treatment have not demonstrated adequate effectiveness (Cuellar, 2006).

Insurance Coverage for the CAM Systems

Insurance coverage for the CAM systems remains a contentious issue to date. While the initial trends were hopeful, most of the insurance companies are yet to offer any substantial insurance cover in this regard. Several insurance companies have started to incorporate CAM with conventional medical providers. Some companies provide benefits for biofeedback, hypnotherapy, reflexology, and acupressure. While herbal products do not fit into the conventional regulatory structure, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval would present a basis for accommodating botanicals into the controlled care formularies as well as for reimbursement by the third-party payers (Rosenzweig, 2010).

State of the Current Scope of Practice

Authoritative health statements or policies that support specific CAM are usually based on findings that are primarily evidence-based from international research or the federal level. In current years, several studies support the utilization of the herbal therapy Echinacea in regard to immune support to speedily alleviate viral conditions. It is probable that with increased research finds that different CAM systems are effective for particular health settings, authoritative health policies may follow. However, in recent years, increased research has had its focus on CAM and its utilization in treatments of chronic illnesses (Rosenzweig, 2010).

Part 2 Discussion on Ethical Behavior

From the perspective of society, the endeavor to scrutinize CAM practices analytically and sensitively means acknowledging that societal expectations and norms for medicine have constantly been in evolution. This includes an increased focus on coping with illness experiences, the significance of holistic, healing interventions with providers and clinicians, as well as health and wellness promotion as objectives. A focus on disease-linked variables, organ function, and biological markers, is limiting and is no longer a sufficient reflection of societal values in regard to patients or the public expectations for valuable health care. Importantly, topical studies recommend that several conventional physicians do not envisage their practices as restricted by their biomedical education and that a number of practitioners are referring to, practicing, or discussing some of the other prominent varieties of CAM and consider them to be valuable or efficacious (Cuellar, 2006).

Yet, there is a need to be vigilant in order that compatibility may not be assumed, where none is present. Medical pluralism ought to be distinguished from co-optation of CAM therapies by conventional medical practices. While several conventional medical practices might seek and realize a genuine integration with diverse CAM therapies, the risk of integration is that some CAM therapies might be delivered in the context of conventional medical practice in traditions that detach CAM modalities from the epistemological structure that directs the tailoring of CAM practice. In the event that this happens, the healing process is liable to be less successful or even unproductive, undermining CAM therapy as well as conventional biomedical practice. This is particularly the case when the intended change or impact by CAM therapy depends on a concept of efficacy that may be immeasurable by contemporary scientific means (Ernst et al. 2004).


Cuellar, N. G. (2006). Conversations in Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Insights and   Perspectives from Leading Practitioners. Sudbury: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Ernst, E, Cohen, M & Stone, J. (2004). Ethical Problems Arising in Evidence-Base  Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Journal of medical ethics. 30:156-159

Rosenzweig, S. (2010). Overview of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The Merck          Manual Home Health Handbook. 21, (1), 15-26.


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