Complementary and Alternative Medicine

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Definition
Alternative medicine is a health care practice that uses a wide range of methods for diagnosis and treatment that do not follow accepted mainstream medical methods and may not have a scientific explanation for their effectiveness. Alternative treatments include acupuncture, homeopathy, aromatherapy, physiotherapy  and chiropractic. Complementary medicine or integrative medicine is based on the use of alternative methods alongside conventional science based treatments. For example, acupuncture can be used to help alleviate side effect from cancer treatments and a physio Ottawa specialist can cure any type of injury, whether we talk about sports, every day, work related, or a car accident injury. Physicians are trained in the latest techniques, which are not only scientifically proven, but can cure all aspects of an injury to get patients better as soon as possible.

Although not proven by scientific methods, patients find complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) beneficial. Acupuncture is a standard treatment in China, but in U.S. it is defined as complementary. Hypnoses is part of regular psychiatric care but it would not be standard if used to treat cancer or other illnesses. Other complementary methods are yoga, naturopathic medicine, herbal remedies and massage therapy. The massage is perhaps the most common type of alternative medicine and the one with the best results. And we are not talking only about human touch massages. Nowadays, if you suffer from chronic back pains, you can buy a massage chair. Modern massage chairs can be quite expensive, but they can be very helpful for stress and pain relief. A top rated massage chair can cost as much as $5000, but it can be worth the trouble, considering the fact that you can enjoy a soothing massage whenever you want, in the privacy of your home.

Safety and effectiveness
Many critics say that complementary and alternative medicine methods lack scientific evidence and their effectiveness is either disproved or unproved. According to the The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, a person can experience symptomatic relief after alternative treatments because of the placebo effect, natural recovery or misdiagnosis. Research is also controversial because of its low quality, methodological flaws and selective publication of results.

There are certain risks associated with complementary and alternative medicine therapies, so patients are advised to choose a practitioner with experience. Also some CAM dietary supplements may interact with the regular medication and cause side effects.

Types of CAM
The natural products area includes many herbal medicines, minerals and vitamins sold as dietary supplements. Some of them contain probiotics, live bacteria that are similar to those found in the human body and are beneficial for the digestive tract. The mind and body practices regard the psychic, behavior and mind as a whole and aim to improve health by stimulating the mind. One of the most popular techniques, also scientifically proven is meditation, known to improve emotional balance, and increase calmness. Acupuncture, guided imagery and yoga are other examples. Similar to this practice is also physiotherapy with the only difference that its treatment methods and results have been scientifically proven. A physio Ottawa expert uses complementary treatments to cure an injury completely and speed up the recovery process.

Manipulative and body-based practices view the spine as the backbone of human health. Practitioners manipulate it using their hands or a special device. Osteopathy and chiropractic treat subluxations or small displacements of the spine and joints in order to relieve nerve pressure. Movement therapies like pilates, the Feldenkrais method and Alexander technique are also part of Cam. Other techniques involve manipulation of energetic fields, like Reiki.