Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can be viewed from at least 3 distinct perspectives, each one reflecting important uses and requiring different definitions. The first definition, which is the most commonly used in consumer and research literature, views CAM as a diverse array of health products, therapeutic activities, and provider-based services not generally used in allopathic medical care. In this context, they are seen as complements or alternatives to allopathic medical care. An example would be the use of yoga, imagery, and massage to treat back pain instead of a more conventional treatment that might include drugs and surgery. Research findings suggest that the majority of individuals use CAM in a complementary rather than an alternative fashion. A second definition recognizes that a great deal ...

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