What is Alternative Medicine?

What is alternative medicine? Well, it goes by many names and definitions. Here are some definitions from various sources. Alternative Medicine: any of the various systems of healing or treating disease (as chiropractic, homeopathy, or faith healing) not included in the traditional medical curricula taught in the United States and Britain -Webster’s Dictionary The Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) Section staff of the National Library of Medicine classifies alternative medicine under the term complementary therapies. This is defined as therapeutic practices which are not currently considered an integral part of conventional allopathic medical practice. They may lack biomedical explanations but as they become better researched some, such as physical therapy, diet, and acupuncture, become widely accepted whereas others, such as humors or radium therapy, quietly fade away, yet are important historical footnotes. Therapies are termed as Complementary when used in addition to conventional treatments and as Alternative when used instead of conventional treatment. The National Library of Medicine’s previous definition was an unrelated group of non-orthodox therapeutic practices, often with explanatory systems that do not follow conventional biomedical explanations and non-orthodox therapeutic systems which have no satisfactory scientific explanation for their effectiveness. Some define alternative medicine as medical interventions not taught at United States medical schools or not available at United States hospitals. The Panel on Definition and Description, CAM Research Methodology Conference, Office of Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, April 1995 defined complementary and alternative medicine as a broad domain of healing resources that encompasses all health systems, modalities, and practices and their accompanying theories and beliefs, other than those intrinsic to the politically dominant health system of a particular society or culture in a given historical period. CAM includes all such practices and ideas self-defined by their users as preventing or treating illness or promoting health and well being. Boundaries within CAM and between CAM domain and the domain of the dominant system are not always sharp or fixed. Alternative therapies include, but are not limited to the following disciplines: folk medicine, herbal medicine, diet fads, homeopathy, faith healing, new age healing, chiropractic, acupuncture, naturopathy, massage, and music therapy.

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