Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM), which includes therapies such as chiropractic, massage, herbal medicine and acupuncture, is characterized by a holistic and highly individualized approach to patient care. Its emphasis is on maximizing the body’s inherent healing ability; getting patients involved as active participants in their own care; addressing the physical, mental and spiritual attributes of a disease; and preventive care.

Published in the online issue of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM) on January 20, 2010:

"Complementary and alternative medicine is receiving increased attention in light of the global health crisis and the significant role of traditional medicine in meeting public health needs in developing countries," said study author Ryan Abbott, a researcher at the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine. "Integrating CAM into mainstream health care is now a global phenomenon, with policy makers at the highest levels endorsing the importance of a historically marginalized form of health care."

While interest in these fields has increased dramatically in the United States in recent years, information about such therapies has not yet been widely integrated into medical education. 

According to the findings of this study of medical students:

  • 77 percent of participants agreed that patients whose doctors know about complementary and alternative medicine, in addition to conventional medicine, benefit more than those whose doctors are only familiar with Western medicine.
  • 74 percent of participants agreed that a system of medicine that integrates therapies of conventional and complementary and alternative medicine would be more effective than either type of medicine provided independently.
  • 84 percent of participants agreed that the field contains beliefs, ideas, and therapies from which conventional medicine could benefit.

"Even with the high prevalence of CAM use today, most physicians still know little about non-conventional forms of medicine," said study author Michael S. Goldstein, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and professor of Public Health and Sociology, UCLA.

My philosophy is voiced by the findings of this study—that CAM and mainstream medicine work best hand-in-hand. My aim is to educate patients about the alternatives available and introduce them to their bodies' extraordinary ability to heal and achieve homeostasis. These goals are not obtained without effort, and constant mindfulness is needed in order to maintain this ever-changing delicate position of balance.