Health and Medicine

Health Care

What are the different domains of complementary and alternative medicine?

Complementary and alternative medicine practices may be divided into four domains: 1) mind-body medicine, 2) biologically based practices, 3) manipulative, and body-based practices, and 4) energy medicine.

Mind-body medicine uses a variety of techniques designed to enhance the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms. Mind-body techniques include meditation, prayer, mental healing, and therapies that use creative outlets such as art, dance, and music. Patient-support groups and cognitive-behavioral therapy were once considered CAM techniques, but are currently considered mainstream.

Biologically based practices use substances found in nature, such as herbs, food, and vitamins, including dietary supplements and herbal products. One example of a natural product to treat a medical disorder is using shark cartilage to treat cancer.

Manipulative and body-based practices are based on manipulation and/or movement of one or more body parts. Manipulation may be part of whole medical systems, such as chiropractic medicine or osteopathic medicine. It often includes massage therapy to increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the targeted areas.

The two types of energy fields used in energy therapies are biofield therapies and bioelectromagnetic-based therapies. Biofield therapies are intended to affect energy fields that purportedly surround and penetrate the human body. The existence of such fields has not yet been scientifically proven. Some forms of energy therapy manipulate biofields by applying pressure and/or manipulating the body by placing the hands in, or through, these fields. Bioelectromagnetic-based therapies involve the unconventional use of electromagnetic fields, such as pulsed fields, magnetic fields, or alternating-current or direct-current fields.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Science Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App