Non-Conventional and Conventional Medicine
Alternative medicine is any practice claiming to heal "that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine. " It may be based on historical or cultural traditions, rather than on scientific evidence. Alternative medicine methods are diverse in their foundations and methodologies. Methods may incorporate or base themselves on traditional medicine, folk knowledge, spiritual beliefs, or newly conceived approaches to healing. Alternative medicine is frequently grouped with complementary medicine or integrative medicine, which, in general, refers to the same interventions when used in conjunction with mainstream techniques, under the umbrella term complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM.
There is no clear and consistent definition for either alternative or complementary medicine. In Western culture, it is often defined as any healing practice "that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine," or "that which has not been shown consistently to be effective. " There is a debate among medical researchers over whether any therapy may be properly classified as "alternative medicine. " Some claim that there is only medicine that has been adequately tested and that which has not. They feel that healthcare practices should be classified based solely on scientific evidence.
The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has developed one of the most widely used classification systems for the branches of complementary and alternative medicine. It classifies complementary and alternative therapies into five major groups, which have some overlap. Whole medical systems cut across more than one of the other groups; examples include traditional Chinese medicine, naturopathy, homeopathy, and Ayurveda. Mind-body medicine takes a holistic approach to health that explores the interconnection between the mind, body, and spirit. Biology-based practices use substances found in nature, such as herbs, foods, vitamins, and other natural substances. Manipulative and body-based practices feature manipulation or movement of body parts, such as is done in chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation.
Integrative medicine is the combination of the practices and methods of alternative/complementary medicine with conventional medicine. It may include preventive medicine and patient-centered medicine. It may also include practices not normally referred to as medicine, such as using prayer, meditation, socializing, and recreation as therapies. Its academic proponents sometimes recommend misleading patients by using known placebo treatments in order to achieve a placebo effect.
Medicinal herbs in a traditional Spanish market