Sunday, June 23, 2013

Let's Begin with CAM

During this modern age, information abounds on the internet.  Not all  information on the internet is correct.  But how do we know if the information is feeding us opinions or if it is honestly information that has been shown through research to be effective? The drive for knowledge, especially for taking control of our own health, is intense. Being educated about the true versus the bogus is essential to reaching for excellent health. Let's get started with some valuable information regarding complementary and alternative medicine and how it can help  to improve your health.

As part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health  opened a branch called the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). The purpose of this branch was to open a way for the research of these approaches to  health care  that have been (and still are to a certain extent) purported by Western Medicine to be a pseudoscience. The research is compelling in many aspects, although research on CAM is limited at this time. Time will bring more research-based information about CAM.

What is complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)?  NCCAM (2013) defined complementary as a "non-mainstream approach together with conventional medicine" (p.1).  Alternative is defined as a "non-mainstream approach in place of conventional medicine" (p.1). NCCAM states that it is not very common for one to use alternative medicine, but the use of complementary methods is widespread.

There are many different methods of complementary medicine. A few of which include natural products such as dietary or herbal supplements, acupuncture, massage therapy, meditation such as mindfulness meditation, movement therapies like Pilates and Structural Integration, relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation. Others include spinal manipulation, Tai Chi, and yoga.

Complementary and alternative medicine bring together mind-body integration.  Freeman (2009) informs us that the mind-body integration occurs via interactions within the body itself to increase the functioning of the immune system.  These interactions occur through the endocrine system, the nervous system, and the immune system. In the next blog post, we will move through how life events effect these body systems to decrease immune function. Associated with the pathways between these body systems, chemical messengers possess the capacity to modulate the immune system. Cell behavior and physiologic responses to the affected immune system then affect health outcomes whether the outcome is increased immunity or decreased immunity. The next blog we will discuss how these pathways are changed and immune systems depressed through life events.


Freeman, L. (2009). Complementary and alternative medicine (3rd ed.). St Louis, MO: Mosby.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2013). cam basics. Retrieved from

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