According to the Alternative Medicine Foundation (AMF); in the United States there are approximately 125 million American citizens that suffer from some kind of chronic illness. Chronic illness can be defined as a long-term condition or illness, where this is no known cure; examples are arthritis, high blood pressure or hypertension, back pain, allergies, digestive problems, and depression. (AMF, 2000) Oftentimes, conventional medicine, that which is performed by medical doctors; cannot help people suffering from chronic conditions. These individuals often turn to alternative or complementary medicine for help; even if it is just relief for their pain or symptoms.
Alternative medicine is defined as "practices used in place of conventional medical treatments. (Wikipedia, 2006) Alternative medicine is a bit controversial since in often can take the place of conventional treatment; for example, a cancer patient declines to undergo radiation or chemotherapy and instead opts for nutritional supplements, specialized diet, and/or bioelectromagnetic treatment, to cure his or her cancer.
Complementary medicine is better described as medical practices that use alternative methods combined or partnered with, conventional medical treatments. An example of complementary medicine would be when a physician uses folic acid as a supplement for his or her pregnant patients, or niacin supplements for his or her patients with high cholesterol. Additionally, burn patients that use Aloe Vera along with their traditional medical treatment(s) for recovering from burns; and arguably, when a cancer patient or glaucoma patient uses marijuana as a biologically-based treatment coupled with his or her traditional chemotherapy or radiation treatment demonstrates the practice of complementary medicine.
The US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) defines integrative medicine as combining conventional medical treatments and alternative treatments for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence of their safety and effectiveness (Wikipedia 2006). Ralph Snyderman discusses integrative medicine by...