Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)

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Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a common phrase to describe a group of medical approaches that are (partially) outside mainstream, conventional medicine and are named complementary or alternative medicine. In recent years, several definitions of CAM have been suggested. The CAMbrella project recently defined CAM (in Europe) as follows:[1]

CAM, as utilised by European citizens, represents a variety of different medical systems and therapies based on the knowledge, skills and practices derived from theories, philosophies and experiences used to maintain and improve health, as well as to prevent, diagnose, relieve or treat physical and mental illnesses. CAM therapies are mainly used outside conventional health care, but in many countries some therapies are being adopted or adapted by conventional healthcare.[2][3][4]

Somewhat later than the concept CAM the phrase integrative medicine was used more often. Combining integrative medicine with complementary medicine leads to the abbreviation CIM (complementary and integrative medicine).


  1. CAM 2020; The contribution of Complementary Medicine to sustainable healthcare in Europe, EUROCAM
  2. Falkenberg, T (2012). "Towards a Pan-European Definition of Complementary and Alternative Medicine – a Realistic Ambition?". Forsch Komplementmed. 19(suppl 2): 6–8. doi:10.1159/000343812.
  3. Von Ammon, K (2012), "Health technology Assessment (HTA) and a map of CAM provision in the EU.", Final Report of CAMbrella Work Package 5
  4. "CAMbrella Final Report; Work package 1: Terminology and definitions of CAM methods". INSTITUTE FOR TCIM/CAM. Retrieved 8 October 2021.