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Collection Development Manual

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) or “complementary health approaches” are a group of diverse medical and health care practices and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health).
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) classifies most complementary health approaches into one of two subgroups: 1) natural products, including herbs, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics, often sold to consumers as dietary supplements; or 2) mind and body practices, including a large and diverse group of procedures or techniques administered or taught by a trained practitioner or teacher. These include but are not limited to yoga, chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation, meditation, massage therapy, acupuncture, relaxation techniques, tai chi, qi gong, healing touch, hypnotherapy and movement therapies. Other complementary health approaches include traditional healers, Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy and naturopathy. For additional information see the NCCIH Web site.
CAM therapies are termed as Alternative when used in place of conventional treatments and Complementary when used together with conventional treatments. Integrative medicine combines mainstream medical therapies and CAM therapies in a coordinated way.
Scope and emphasis:
NLM comprehensively collects research publications that describe, analyze or evaluate the delivery, safety or efficacy of complementary and alternative systems, practices or products; official guidelines or policies for the use of CAM therapies or products; and authoritative works on the education, training and certification of CAM practitioners. Of particular interest are works documenting the clinical and economic impact of CAM therapies on U.S. health care and consumers and works tracing the trajectory of acceptance or rejection of various historical and contemporary therapeutic systems.
Special considerations:
CAM generates a large body of literature not specifically addressed to professional health practitioners or scholars. NLM collects such materials selectively, emphasizing works that characterize diverse viewpoints, those chronicling the public response to CAM therapies, and those documenting the CAM health information disseminated to the U.S. public at large. Academic Dissertations on complementary and alternative medicine, especially by medical anthropologists, may be of interest.
See also: