Complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM, is a category of medicine that includes a wide variety of health care practices that fall outside the realm of conventional or “western” medicine.
There is a difference between complementary medicine and alternative medicine. Complementary medicine refers to healing practices and products that work in addition to conventional medicine. For example, a patient who does physical therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee may use acupuncture to help relieve tensions. Alternative medicine is used as a substitute for traditional therapy. For example, instead of the patient with osteoarthritis of the knee decides just to try to lose weight and forgo any additional treatment.