The term “CAM” (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) was coined in the 1960s in order to distinguish traditional and natural (non-invasive) therapies from modern medicine. CAM consists of therapeutic treatments that are different to those used in conventional healthcare. Other terms used include: experience-based medicine; holistic medicine; natural medicine; other medicine; person-centred medicine and traditional medicine (TM).
The World Heath Organisation (WHO) defines Traditional Medicine (TM) as “The sum total of knowledge, skills and practices based on theories, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures that are used to maintain health, as well as to prevent, diagnose, improve or treat physical and mental illnesses”.
CAM therapies are based on a holistic or ‘whole-of-life’ approach. This model of healthcare is concerned with the relationship between health, stress and coping with hardship emotionally, mentally and physically. In practice, CAM practitioners take account of the social determinants of health (SDH) such as living conditions, interpersonal relationships, mental, emotional and spiritual (value or meaning of life) healthiness and life-styles which can affect a persons state of health and sense of well-being.
As well as addressing the symptoms of a disease, CAM practitioners focus mainly on relieving contributing stress factors as far as possible and thereby, assist the body in the healing and regeneration it is naturally trying to achieve.