Complementary and alternative medicine is “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.” The term “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” is frequently referred to as “CAM”. (NCCAM definition)
Complementary treatments are used in combination with conventional medicine. Alternative treatments are used instead of conventional medicine.
For more on defining CAM, please see NCCAM, http://www.nccam.nih.gov
Types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Biologics and Natural health products “Biologics” describes food and nutrition as a form of managing your health. This includes changes in diet and special diets and foods, as well as natural health products (NHPs). NHPs are defined as vitamins and minerals, herbal remedies, homeopathic medicines, probiotics, and other products like amino acids and essential fatty acids.
Mind-body practices include meditation and prayer, relaxation therapies, visualization, and creative activities, such as art and music therapy.
Manipulative and body-based practices include therapies such as spinal manipulation and forms of massage.
Energy therapies involve the use of energy fields such as therapeutic touch, reiki, and acupuncture.
Whole Medical Systems are based on distinct theories about treatment and practice and include multiple products and/or practices. Examples are traditional Chinese medicine and naturopathy.
Why People Use CAM
People living with cancer give many reasons for using CAM. Some of these reasons include:
• Easing cancer symptoms or the side effects of conventional treatments
• Dealing with the stress of cancer and its treatment
• Restoring a sense of hope
• Strengthening the body’s ability to heal
• Offering a sense of control over their cancer experience
• Seeing the treatments as natural and less toxic than medical treatments.
CAM Use in British Columbia (BC)
Surveys have shown that many people living with cancer in Canada use CAM. These surveys also show that CAM use in BC is higher than in any other province.
A recent survey of 412 people conducted by CAMEO at the BC Cancer Agency in November 2008 showed that:
• 49% have used CAM during their cancer experience
• 42% discussed CAM with their oncology health professional, but only 23% received enough information.
CAM Associations & Societies
These are the primary associations and societies for CAM more commonly used in by patients with cancer. They all have practice standards, codes of conduct and ethics, and disciplinary procedures.
Inclusion of the list below is for reference only and does not imply endorsement (therapies or members) by CAMEO or the BCCA.
Please see the list below in choosing to work with your health care practitioner.
- AROMATHERAPY BC Alliance of Aromatherapy
- ART THERAPY BC Art Therapy Association http://www.bcarttherapy.com 604-878-6393
- CHIROPRACTIC BC Chiropractic Association
- HEALING TOUCH Healing Touch Canada
HERBALISTS & NATURAL HEALTH PRODUCTS
- Canadian Herbalist’s Association of BC http://www.chaofbc.ca
- MASSAGE THERAPY Massage Therapists’ Association of BC
- Natural Health Practitioners of Canada http://www.nhpcanada.org
MINDFULNESS BASED STRESS REDUCTION FACILITATORS
- MBSR facilitators of BC http://www.mbsrbc.ca
(contact the individual facilitators)
- MUSIC THERAPY Music Therapy Association of BC
- BC Naturopathic Association http://www.bcna.ca
- REFLEXOLOGY Reflexology Association of Canada
- REIKI Canadian Reiki Association http://www.reiki.ca
- SHIATSU Shiatsu Therapy Association of BC http://www.shiatsutherapy.ca
- BC Therapeutic Touch Network http://www.bctherapeutictouch.com
The BCCA offers Therapeutic Touch. Patients can ask their physician/nurse to make a request or call 604-877-6000 (local 672192)
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE
- BC Qualified Acupuncturists & Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Association (QATCMA)
- YOGA Yoga Association of BC http://yogabc.org
B.C.’s Medical Services Plan provides $23 a visit to a maximum of ten visits a year only to low-income patients who use any of the following services: acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy, naturopathy, physical therapy and non-surgical podiatry.
Costs above this amount are the responsibility of the individuals receiving care. To find out if you qualify for MSP Premium Assistance Program visit: http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/msp/infoben/benefits.html
Original Sources cited:
BC Cancer Agency – Informational Guide for CAM