"Complementary and Alternative Medicine", or CAM, are the terms most used in the literature today... but what exactly are we talking about?
Joan Engebretson, DrPH:
I think that initially everything that was not covered in medical school was pretty much dumped into a category of 'alternative'. And then I think we moved into somehow differentiating between alternative and complementary. Barry Caslo made nice distinction in an article in a book she had written, and she really defined alternatives are more of a biological, intensive kinds of treatments that people get and generally they would get those in place of biomedicine. So they are usually used to treat something, or they're used and are usually biological, have some definite biological things like Botox or some of the treatments people were going to Mexico to get for cancer and so forth.
The things that we are mostly hearing about, and the things that are most commonly used which are the complementary therapies, which are things that people use as adjuncts, and they use those to treat symptoms, to deal with symptoms while they are getting biomedical treatment... they use those to promote their health or to cope with a health problem. The term 'integrative medicine' I think represents what's happening now where our health care institutions are trying to bring some of these complementary treatments in to combine to provide the best treatment for their patients and I think that seems to be the trend in which the whole... many, many health care institutions are going.
Dr. Singletary, MD:
I think physicians realize that complementary medicine is here to stay. Patients are very interested in using this type of treatment and I think the issue is how can we incorporate alternative or complementary medicine into our standard way of treating the patient.
Lorenzo Cohen, PhD:
In the best approach, and a lot of M. D. Anderson clinics are doing this – they have multidisciplinary care teams – where the patient comes in and they meet with all the different disciplines... one of the disciplines should be complementary medicine... and if it's done that way then we are treating patients using integrative medicine.
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