complementary and alternative medicine


1. a term referring to a heterogeneous group of hygienic, diagnostic, and therapeutic philosophies and practices whose principles and techniques diverge from those of modern scientific medicine. Some of these differ from traditional medicine only in preferring natural hygienic and therapeutic methods to drug treatment and surgery; some have roots in ancient or modern philosophical or religious systems; and some are based on what some more clinically oriented critics assert are naive, false, or inconsistent notions of anatomy, physiology, psychology, pathology, and pharmacology. Alternative health practices have been imported into some parts of the U.S. by migrant populations, particularly Asians and Hispanics. Many branches of CAM share a holistic view of human health, emphasizing integration of body, mind, and spirit.


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