Complementary and Alternative Therapies
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is a federal government agency for scientific research on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). This agency is part of the National Insti-tutes of Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. Complementary medicine includes therapies used with conventional medicine practices (the medical model). Alternative medicine includes therapies used in place of conventional treatment. NCCAM conducts clini-cal research to help determine the safety and efficacy of these practices (NCCAM, 2006). Studying the use of St. John’s wort to treat depression (instead of using antide-pressant medication) would be an example of researching alternative medicine. Conducting research on the use of chiropractic massage and antidepressant medication to treat depression is an example of complementary medicine research. Integrative medicine combines conventional medical therapy and CAM therapies that have scientific evidence supporting their safety and effectiveness.
NCCAM studies a wide variety of complementary and alternative therapies:
· Alternative medical systems include homeopathic medi-cine and naturopathic medicine in Western cultures, and traditional Chinese medicine, which includes herbal and nutritional therapy, restorative physical exercises (yoga and Tai chi), meditation, acupuncture, and remedial massage.
· Mind–body interventions include meditation, prayer, mental healing, and creative therapies that use art, music, or dance.
· Biologically based therapies use substances found in na-ture, such as herbs, food, and vitamins. Dietary supple-ments, herbal products, medicinal teas, aromatherapy, and a variety of diets are included.
· Manipulative and body-based therapies are based on ma-nipulation or movement of one or more parts of the body, such as therapeutic massage and chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation.
· Energy therapies include two types of therapy: biofield therapies, intended to affect energy fields that are be-lieved to surround and penetrate the body, such as ther-apeutic touch, qi gong, and Reiki, and bioelectric-based therapies involving the unconventional use of electro-magnetic fields, such as pulsed fields, magnetic fields, and AC or DC fields. Qi gong is part of Chinese medi-cine that combines movement, meditation, and regu-lated breathing to enhance the flow of vital energy and promote healing. Reiki (which in Japanese means universal life energy) is based on the belief that when spiritual energy is channeled through a Reiki practitio-ner, the patient’s spirit and body are healed.
Clients may be reluctant to tell the psychiatrist or primary care provider about the use of CAM. Therefore, it is impor-tant that the nurse ask clients specifically about use of herbs, vitamins, or other health practices in a nonjudg-mental way.