CAM modalities include acupuncture, anthroposophic medicine, ayurvedic medicine, herbal medicine/phytotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic and traditional Chinese or Tibetan medicine among others. CAM treatment is provided within a broad scope, which includes an awareness of the need for conventional medical diagnosis, prognosis and treatments.
Acupuncture is perhaps the best-known aspect of traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the west. It aims to influence body functions and stimulate and restore the body’s own regulatory system by using specific (acupuncture) points on the surface of the body. Besides the use of needles, the application of pressure (acupressure) and heat (moxibustion) are also traditionally used. Diagnosis and treatment are conducted in accordance with the presenting individual pattern of disharmony and are based on traditional concepts, centuries of clinical experience and on modern scientific basic research. Acupuncture can treat a wide range of complaints both organic and functional in origin. It is also well known for its application in pain management and modern research has confirmed its effectiveness in the treatment of low back pain, depression, the treatment of migraine and many other common conditions. Acupuncture can be combined with other therapeutic TCM techniques such as moxibustion, cupping, gua sha (a kind of rubbing therapy), herbs, dietetics, tuina (massage and manual therapy) and qigong (exercises, breathing, concentration). Acupuncture is often integrated in various therapeutic aspects of mainstream medicine. Research on Acupuncture.
Anthroposophic medicine is a holistic and salutogenetic approach to medicine focusing on strengthening the patient's organism and individuality. The self-determination, autonomy and dignity of patients are central themes. Therapies are intended to enhance a patient's capacities to heal and include anthroposophic medicines as well as various art therapies like painting and sculpture therapy, music, singing and speech therapy, physiotherapy and massage, psychotherapy, curative education and social therapy - and eurythmy therapy, where special body movements are employed for therapeutic purposes. Research on Anthroposophic medicine.
Ayurveda (the 'science of life') is a system of traditional medicine native to the Indian subcontinent using methods for achieving physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being. Ayurveda emphasises prevention and a holistic approach to therapy and is practised as a form of CAM within the western world, where several of its methods, such as the use of herbs, massage, and yoga are applied on their own as a form of CAM treatment. Research on Ayurveda.
Chiropractic is a healthcare profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health. Chiropractic care is used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches.
Chiropractic physicians or chiropractors practise a hands-on approach to healthcare that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. They have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counselling. Research on Chiropractic.
Herbal medicine – also called phytomedicine or phytotherapy – refers to using a plant's seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, or flowers for medicinal purposes. Whole herbs contain many chemical constituents working synergistically together to treat disease and support the body’s own healing mechanisms (e.g. its immunity). Herbal medicine practice is rooted in hundreds of years of experience of using plant medicines which today is underpinned by the scientific study (pharmacognosy) of plant medicines and their chemical constituents. Herbal medicine is becoming mainstream as improvements in analysis and quality control along with advances in clinical research show the value of plant medicines in the treatment and prevention of disease. Apart from the herbal medicine itself, herbal practitioners will routinely offer advice on appropriate changes of lifestyle, diet and the adoption of stress-reduction techniques and appropriate exercise. Research on Herbal medicine.
Homeopathic medicine or homeopathy is a whole medical system that originated in Germany in the 19th century at the same time as the birth of modern medicine. The fundamental idea of homeopathy is the Similarity Principle, which implies that substances capable of causing disorder in healthy subjects are used as medicines to treat similar patterns of disorder experienced by ill people. Homeopathic medicines are aimed to direct and stimulate the body’s self-regulatory mechanisms. Homeopathy is highly individualized while taking into account the symptoms and signs of the disease, the patient’s physical build, personality, temperament and genetic predispositions. The medicines used are prepared according to homeopathic dilution technique in order to reduce their toxic effects and bring to the forefront their curative qualities. Homeopathy can be effective in a wide range of health issues.
Homeopathy is a complementary medicine which stimulates the body’s self-healing powers to create a long-lasting improvement. Homeopathy treats a wide range of conditions with remedies prepared from plant, animal and mineral substances. A healing response is triggered by administering a minute amount of the same substance which would provoke the disease symptoms if taken by a healthy person. Homeopathy is essentially the healing practice of treating like with like. Research has shown that homeopathy is effective and safe. The first homeopathic consultation, which usually lasts between one and one and a half hours, involves intensive listening and questioning. The homeopath will inquire not only about the current and previous symptoms but also about the body, mental and emotional make-up of the patient. This will allow the homeopath to prescribe the appropriate remedy. Follow-up visits are arranged to assess the action of the remedy on the symptoms, fine tune the dose and frequency of the remedy and prescribe a new remedy if needed. Research on Homeopathy.
Naturopathic or Traditional European Medicine (TEM&N)
Rooted in Hippocratic, Mediterranean and middle-European traditional healing systems, TEM&N currently represents a pragmatic blend of traditional, scientific and empirical methods in the prevention and treatment of illness and the maintenance of health.
The principles and methods of TEM&N are taught so they can be adopted and practised by those seeking better health or health maintenance. The principles involved include:
• Understanding the human being as an integral part of nature achieving optimum health by having body, mind and spirit in harmony with the environment.
• Understanding and employing the inherent homeostatic and regulatory principles of the body’s biological and biochemical and electromagnetic functions.
• Understanding the central importance of the interplay of the elements, temperament and constitution so that treatment is suited to individual need.
• Making an individual diagnosis based on the unique analysis of each case.
• Highlighting the necessary measures to achieve full health and prevention of disease. This includes appropriate individualised dietary and lifestyle advice suited to the specific individual.
TEM&N is a distinct healthcare profession, emphasizing the importance of prevention as well as offering treatment through the use of a variety of therapeutic methods and natural substances that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing eliminative and constructive processes to obtain optimum health. TEM&N professionals comprehend human beings and other living creatures as a vital individual unity of body, soul and spirit.
Current methods of practice include: cupping, massage, treatment with leeches, bloodletting, spagyric therapy, apitherapy, balneotherapy, hydrotherapy, relaxation exercises, movement therapy, reflexology, neural therapy, nutritional advice, vitamin and mineral therapy, fasting, herbalism/ phytotherapy, the use of essential oils, psychological counselling, stress management, lifestyle regulation and others. Research on Naturopathic or Traditional European Medicine.
Osteopathy is a system of medicine that emphasizes the theory that the body can heal itself given normal, healthy structural relationships, environmental conditions, and nutrition. Treatment attends to body mechanics and manipulative methods in diagnosis and therapy. It is a contact and patient-centred healthcare discipline, that emphasises the interrelationship of structure and function of the body, facilitates the body’s innate ability to heal itself and supports a whole-person approach to all aspects of health and healthy development, principally through manual treatment.
The practice of osteopathy uses current medical and scientific knowledge to apply the principles of osteopathy to patient care. Scientific plausibility and evidence-based outcomes have a high priority in patients treatment and case management. Osteopathy provides a broad range of approaches to the maintenance of health and the management of the disease. It embraces the concept of the unity of the individual’s structure (anatomy) and function (physiology); as such osteopathy is a patient-centered system of health care, rather than a disease-centred system of healthcare.
An essential component of osteopathy is its great attention to body mechanics and its manual methods in diagnosis and therapy. Osteopathy was developed as a means to facilitate normal self-regulating/self-healing mechanisms in the body by addressing areas of tissue strain, stress or dysfunction which may impede normal neural, vascular and biochemical mechanisms. Research on Osteopathy.
Shiatsu is an autonomous natural healthcare system which originated in Japan and is influenced by traditional Chinese medicine and more recently Western knowledge. It derives its theoretical and practical roots from the ancient traditions of East Asian philosophies and healing and the holistic understanding of life and health based upon them. Its aim is to stimulate and support the processes of natural self-healing, well-being and personal growth, and to maintain health, by balancing the energetic system of a person. The method uses the application of pressure or energetic touch on specific points, channels (meridians) or areas of the body to balance the circulation of the body's energy (Ki in Japanese or Qi in Chinese).
Treatment involves brief or sustained pressure with thumbs, hands, elbows, knees and feet to meridians and tsubo (pressure points) and to other physical structures. Treatment may also include rotations and stretching of limbs, joints and meridians. Shiatsu is usually given on a soft mat on the floor.
Shiatsu enhances self-awareness and sensitivity and releases tension. It also supports and nourishes a person’s life-force. Applied by a practitioner with appropriate training, shiatsu promotes general well being and can be used as a preventative healthcare method. It can also assist people through crisis, difficult life phases and processes of change. It can treat people presenting with a wide variety of physical conditions. Research on Shiatsu.
Traditional Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) originated in ancient China and has evolved over thousands of years. It encompasses many different practices, including acupuncture, moxibustion (burning an herb above the skin to apply heat to acupuncture points), Chinese herbal medicine, tuina (Chinese therapeutic massage), gua sha (a rubbing therapy), dietary therapy, and tai chi and qigong (practices that combine specific movements or postures, coordinated breathing, and mental focus). Traditional Chinese medicine dates back more than 2,500 years. Traditional systems of medicine also exist in other East and South Asian countries, including Japan (where the traditional herbal medicine is called Kampo) and Korea. Some of these systems have been influenced by TCM and are similar to it, but each has developed distinctive features of its own. Research on Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Tibetan medicine, Sowa Rigpa (the ‘science of healing’), is a system of traditional medicine native to Tibet (and adapted in parts of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, Himalayan regions, Siberia, etc.). It is a complete traditional medical system with all divisions of physiology, pathogenesis, general and special pathology, diagnosis and treatment. Based on a threefold humoral theory, body-mind concept and Buddhist psychology, Tibetan Medicine is a holistic medicine, which aims to balance the three aspects of life: body, energy and mind by internal and external therapies as well as by the introduction of health-promoting self-administered exercises. It employs a complex approach to diagnosis and utilizes lifestyle and dietary modification, medicines composed of natural materials (e.g. herbs and minerals) and physical therapies to treat illness.
Yoga is a systematic practice of physical exercise, breath control, relaxation, diet control, positive thinking and meditation aimed at developing harmony in the body, mind, and environment. The practice entails low-impact physical activity, postures (called asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), relaxation, and meditation.
Yoga is an ancient system of physical and mental practices that originated during the Indus Valley civilization in South Asia. The fundamental purpose of yoga is to foster harmony in the body, mind, and environment. The origin of the word ‘Yoga’ is a Sanskrit word Yog meaning ‘union’. Yoga is a union of the organ systems in the body with the consciousness in the mind.
Yoga is a low-cost self-help approach to well-being. Regular practice of yoga can lead to reduced stress levels, improved flexibility and muscle strength, improved posture, improved awareness of the physical body and the self. As it is not necessary to be in peak physical condition to practice yoga, it is an ideal activity for sedentary people and for seniors as well as for those who are more active. Research on Yoga.