Skip to main content

Integrative, Complementary & Alternative Medicine: Overview

A selective list of resources to find information on integrative, complementary, alternative and herbal medicine.

Natural Medicines Databases

What is Integrative, Complementary & Alternative (CAM)?

Complementary Versus Alternative

The two terms refer to different concepts:

  • “Complementary” generally refers to using a non-mainstream approach together with conventional medicine.
  • “Alternative” refers to using a non-mainstream approach in place of conventional medicine.

True alternative medicine is not common. Most people use non-mainstream approaches along with conventional treatments. And the boundaries between complementary and conventional medicine overlap and change with time. For example, guided imagery and massage, both once considered complementary or alternative, are used regularly in some hospitals to help with pain management.

Integrative Medicine

This array of non-mainstream health care approaches may also be considered part of integrative medicine or integrative health care.

For example, cancer treatment centers with integrative health care programs may offer services such asacupuncture and meditation to help manage symptoms and side effects for patients who are receiving conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.

  • The integrative trend is growing among providers and health care systems. Driving factors include marketing of integrative care by health care providers to consumers who perceive benefits to health or well-being, and emerging evidence that some of the perceived benefits are real or meaningful.
  • The scientific evidence is limited. In many instances, a lack of reliable data makes it difficult for people to make informed decisions about using integrative health care.

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged. More from the NCCAM website http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam 

Subject Guide

Chris  Bishop's picture
Chris Bishop
Contact:
Chris Bishop, MLS
cbishop@marian.edu
M-F 8:30-5:00 p.m.
Library 2nd Floor
Call or Email for Appt/Reference/Instruction
317-955-6584