Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s (CAM) CAM’s twin objectives are to maintain health and to treat illness in an individualised way where the focus is on ‘salutogenesis’ identifying and supporting the factors that maintain good health. CAM straddles the gap between prevention – and the management and treatment interventions of conventional medicine.

CAM is inherently geared to:

– fostering good health

– strengthening health for resistance to health threats

– whole person diagnosis

– whole person treatment

– collaboration with other health approaches

– chronic disease prevention by supporting patients’ own natural systems for fighting disease and for maintaining health

– supporting sustainable, safer and more cost-effective health delivery systems

– help reduce the need of high cost, high-impact medical interventions and the long-term dependency on them

-help reduce the need for antibiotics, thus reducing the problem of anti-microbial resistance.

CAM can be considered as an essential part of a more integrated approach to the public health agenda across the EU, especially in areas including prevention and health promotion, patient safety, quality of healthcare (patient-centred health services), palliative care, health economics (cost-effectiveness and cost-savings), and mental health.

Therapies practised include: acupuncture, anthroposophic medicine, aromatherapy, ayurvedic medicine, chiropractic, herbal medicine/phytotherapy, homeopathy, kinesiology, massage, naturopathic medicine, osteopathy, reflexology, Tibetan and traditional Chinese medicine, shiatsu, yoga, among others.

Surveys conducted in several EU Member States show that CAM is used by a substantial proportion of the general population. Today’s European citizens have started to feel themselves increasingly responsible for their own lives, health and healthcare. They want to choose the therapeutic approach that they consider will produce the best result for their health problem whether it belongs to conventional medicine or CAM. Citizens are attracted to CAM because of its holistic approach, its effectiveness, its orientation towards promoting health rather than controlling symptoms, its emphasis on individual care and self-empowerment, its high safety profile and because of its use of naturally sourced, low-risk medicinal products.

CAM doctors and practitioners will normally recommend an individualised package of care, including a specified CAM treatment as well as advice on change of lifestyle, diet and substance-abuse behaviours, acquisition of stress-reduction techniques and exercise etc. Health psychology approaches, which are intrinsic to most CAM modalities, aim to teach individuals more adaptive methods of interpreting life challenges and to develop more effective coping responses. CAM therapies approach illness by working to induce and support the self-healing process of the individual. They can often be used as a first option in a wide range of health problems, or as a complement to conventional treatment working alongside it to improve patients’ health.


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