Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) Essay

Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Define complementary and alternative medicine. Choose one example of complementary and alternative medicine. Describe the nurse practitioner’s role in utilizing your chosen complementary and alternative medicine. Support your answer with evidence-based research

The terms complementary and alternative medicine or CAM have been used to refer to treatment practices that do not fall under the standard or conventional medical practices as we know them. They are treatments that do not have a solid scientific backing for efficacy and therefore do not form evidence-based practice or EBP. However, they have been used for so long that trust in their efficacy is based on anecdotal evidence handed down from generation to generation (CDC, 2021). Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) Essay

It so happens that CAM treatments are mostly composed of ancient traditional Chinese herbal and other practices for treating illness and injury. Integrative medicine is the practice that has been exercised that makes use of both CAM and conventional medical practice to try and solve recalcitrant medical problems such as cancer treatment (National Cancer Institute, 2022). According to the National Cancer Institute, these CAM treatments include yoga, meditation, massage therapy, hypnosis, acupuncture, qigong, biofeedback, use of natural products such as herbs and botanicals, reflexology, chiropractic therapy, tai chi, and ayurvedic medicine (from India) amongst others. The purpose of this paper is to define CAM and to look at one of the CAM practices as well as the role of the nurse practitioner in using it on patients.

Defining Complementary and Alternative Medicine or CAM

As has been noted in the introduction above, CAM is a treatment practice that is not the one normally used by practitioners to treat ailments such as cancer and other chronic illnesses. In other words, he practice does not form part of mainstream medicine. The practice is in two distinct divisions as the title implies. Complementary medicine is used to supplement conventional treatments in a practice known as integrative medicine. On the other hand, alternative medicine is medical practices that are not conventional and that are used to replace standard or conventional medical practices (CDC, 2021). These CAM treatments have found use in situations such as those of medical futility (as in terminal cancer) where there s need to give the patient hope and show them that nothing is being done despite the hopelessness. The use of CAM in these circumstances is also the result of respecting the patient’s autonomy and preferences. Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) Essay

Acupuncture as a Form of Complementary and Alternative Medical Practice

Acupuncture is an ancient treatment practice based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that also used diet, meditation, massage, exercise, and herbal concoctions to restore wellness. In it, clean needles are used to puncture what are known as acupuncture points or acupoints in the body. Pressure and heat is also applied at the same time. Studies have shown that indeed acupuncture is effective in relieving symptoms such as nausea and vomiting that are brought about by anti-cancer agents (National Cancer Institute, 2020). The different kinds of acupuncture that have also been proven to relieve fatigue, numbness (Cho & Kim, 2021), hot flushes, and dry mouth include laser acupuncture, auricular acupuncture, acupressure, and electro-acupuncture amongst others.


Nurse Practitioner’s Role in Using Acupuncture

The role of the nurse practitioner (NP) in using acupuncture to manage patients is limited to referring the patient to a practitioner who has competencies and experience in the use of acupuncture as a CAM. In the spirit of interprofessional collaboration, the NP ho is treating a cancer patient would for instance consider a consult with an acupuncturist to see if the therapy can help their patient with nausea and vomiting. This consult may also consider the complete range of TCM that also includes herbal extracts, exercise, and diet together with acupuncture (Dimitrelis et al., 2017). All this is in a bid to have the NP respect the ethical principle of autonomy as well as beneficence with respect to the patient’s holistic care.


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) refers to treatment practices that do not conform to standard or conventional medical practice. They include acupuncture that is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM. They have been used extensively in areas such as cancer management to relieve symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and pain.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] (May 12, 2021). Complementary and alternative medicine.

Cho, E., & Kim, W. (2021). Effect of acupuncture on diabetic neuropathy: A narrative review. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22(16), 8575-8595.

Dimitrelis, S., Perry, L., Gallagher, R., Duffield, C., Sibbritt, D., Nicholls, R., and Xu, X.             (2017). Does nurses’ role, health or symptoms influence their personal use of      ingestible complementary and alternative medicines? Complementary Therapies in      Medicine, 35, 39-46.

National Cancer Institute (March 21, 2022). Complementary and alternative medicine.,as%20nausea%2C%20pain%2C%20and%20fatigue

National Cancer Institute (November 12, 2020). Acupuncture (PDQ®)–Patient Version.

Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) Essay

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