Pros and Cons of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States

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Harvey Mudd College
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Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) refers to the health and wellness therapies that are not part of the conventional western medicine. CAM mainly focuses on the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual well-being of a person (Devine & Hayes, 2016). The extensive and widespread utilization of CAM is crucial to todays healthcare. People in the United States utilize of at least one CAM therapies, and visits to CAM physicians have exceeded visits to primary health care providers over the years hence it is one of the biggest businesses currently. Medical, pharmacy, and nursing schools are now teaching students about CAM (Devine & Hayes, 2016). In this paper, we shall discuss the pros of Complementary and alternative medicine in the United States of America.

CAM utilizes natural and herbal remedies because it bases its principle that health can be restored by bringing back the energy to balance and harmony. According to Shaw (2015), some of the pros of CAM include:

It treats both the body and mind: the alternative therapists often believe that the mind and body are closely connected entities, and the emotion and spiritual health is of extreme importance when curing someone physically. The therapist advises the patients to focus on adopting a healthy lifestyle and concentrate on the cause the disease hence causing the imbalance.

It focuses on reducing stress among the patients: CAM therapists have recognized that stress causes many health problems, and it weakens the immune system considerably. Conventional medicine does not focus on stress when prescribing treatments, but CAM focuses on reducing stress, and emotional tension, to combat illness.

CAM mainly focuses on prevention rather than treatment, and it recognizes prevention as a critical prerequisite to good health. Hence, it teaches patients to focus on preventing illness before they occur and encourages constant care of the mind, body, and soul. Conventional medicine intervenes only when illness occurs, but CAM uses preventive and holistic approaches to recommends a responsible lifestyle.

CAM remedies do not have harmful effects because they are selected carefully for a given condition, unlike conventional medicine that tends to mistake beneficial bacteria from the harmful microorganism hence causing considerable damage to the intestinal flora.

CAM medicines do not cause a buildup of toxins in the human body; hence they are safer compared to conventional medicines.

However, despite its benefits, CAM therapies have some major setbacks. According to Devine & Hayes (2016), the cons of CAM therapies include:

CAM therapies have limited scientific research, and many problems have not been answered regarding their use. However, today there are many scientific studies to examine its efficacy and safety of some of the CAM therapies.

Most CAM therapies have not been approved by government regulatory agencies such as the Federal Drug Administration, and health insurance companies do not provide cover to CAM therapies.

CAM therapies do not initiate immediate healing effects, unlike conventional therapies, because it focuses on treating the problem from its source; hence, it requires more time to heal. It also requires that the patient to dedicate himself or herself entirely, and change their lifestyle habits, which can be challenging to many people.

CAM therapies are also not suitable for emergency cases such as car accidents, or other problems that require immediate care and instant action such as surgery.

Some patients may not react to certain CAM therapies because patient conditions and physiological make is different. While others can be cured, others can be harmed by the treatment hence causing them more damage.


Devine, M., & Hayes, M. (2016). Complementary and alternative medicine. In Family Medicine: Principles and Practice. Springer International Publishing.

Shaw, H. (2015). Complementary and alternative medicine. Oxford American Handbook of Oncology, 195.

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