Types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Alternative Medicine

           Various types of complementary and alternative medicines are used as medication and treatment. Several areas together make up the commonly known practise of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Moreover, often, several parts of one field overlap with the elements of other fields. Therefore, there is not a fixed and clear boundary surrounding the discipline. For instance, acupuncture, which is a part of CAM, is often used in the practice of conventional medicine as well. In the United States, CAM is used by about 38% of adults and 12% of children. Some of the examples of complementary and alternative medicine include:

  • Traditional Alternative Medicine– The field of Traditional Alternative Medicine consists of the mainstream and accepted forms of therapy like acupuncture, homoeopathy and other oriental practices. These therapies have been practised throughout the globe for centuries. Some examples of Traditional Alternative Medicine are – Acupuncture, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Chinese medicine etc.
  • Body – The sense of touch has played an essential role in medical practice since the ancient time. Healing by touch is based on a concept that suggests that injury or illness in one area of the body can affect all the other parts. If the different parts of the body can be nursed back to optimum functioning through manipulations, then the body emphasises healing the illness or the injury. Therapies often focus on a combination of both body and mind. Some examples of body-related treatments are – Massages, Tai Chi, Yoga, Chiropractic and osteopathic medicine, Body movement therapies etc
  • Diets and Herbs –Through the passage of time and introduction of industrialisation, humans have moved from a Sattvic diet of fresh fruits, vegetables and grains to a diet consisting of foods filled with complex carbohydrates, harmful chemicals and oil and fats. People do not receive the required amount of nutrients and minerals in their food today. This often leads to chronic diseases. CAM attempts to balance the body’s nutritional well-being. Some examples are – Dietary supplements, herbal medicine, nutrition-rich diet etc.
  • External Energy –It is believed that external energy from objects and other sources may have a direct impact on a person’s health. Some examples of external energy therapy are – Reiki, Qigong, Electromagnetic therapy.


  • Mind – Not just CAM, but even the conventional methods of medicine recognise the power of the connection between body and mind. Various studies have concluded that the body heals better if the mental health and emotional condition of a person is stable and positive. Therapies involving the mind are – Hypnosis, Meditation, Bio-feedback etc.
  • Senses – Many people believe that the senses, touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste can have a significant impact on health. The therapies incorporating senses are – Art therapy, Movement therapy, Guided imagery, Visualization etc.