Complementary and Alternative Medication (CAM) modalities are numerous. Some of them are more accepted by the traditional Western medicine (the allopathic medicine) than others are. Alternative medicines are those that are practiced in isolation from allopathic medicine. In some cases, alternative medicine practitioners may even discourage the patients from seeking other forms of treatments, and in particular, they discourage the use of allopathic treatments. Complementary medicines, on the other hand, are those that are used along with allopathic treatment. These modalities are often suggested by the allopathic practitioners to supplement the medications the patient is taking. In general, complementary modalities are less dangerous to use than alternative ones due to the fact that primary care practitioners are aware of situation in which their patients are using them, and they are used to complement the medical interventions the patient is receiving.
A branch of medicine known as integrative medicine has become more popular among patients who desire to use CAM therapies. Integrative medicine practitioners advocate the use of both complementary and allopathic therapies in their practice. A person who is suffering from lower back pain may be advised to use muscle relaxants and see a chiropractor or a massage therapist to help relieve his pain. Clinics in North America are now available in major urban areas, where medical doctors (M.D. and D.O., among others) are practicing side by side with chiropractors and physical therapists to provide health care in the form of integrative medicine. In addition, naturopathic physicians (N.D.) are being trained in traditional medical institutions to offer a variety of services that may include botanical medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, exercise therapy, and mental health, among others.
Benedict Lust, the father of naturopathy, preached the use of noninvasive natural modalities for enhancing the body’s own healing power to restore health. Another branch that is also popular in Europe and has established its roots in the United States is homeopathy. This modality uses extremely diluted forms of herbs and chemicals to restore body balance. Homeopathic philosophy is based on the fact that minute amounts of substances when taken internally or applied externally stimulate reactions that mimic the disease state. These substances may be used to cure the disease (letting like treat like). In addition, the more diluted the homeopathic preparation the more powerful the product, and more pronounced the clinical effect will be expected, which is counterintuitive. Homeopathy was originally proposed by a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843).
Source : Antoine, A. (2008). An Introduction to Botanical Medicines : History, Science, Uses, and Dangers. Westport, USA : Praeger Publishers