Emergency Services Available 24/7 Call: (855) 463-3303 request an appointment

Navigation Link

Get Help Make A Donation

Alternative Mental Health Medicine

Defining Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Alternative Mental Health Medicine

Alternative medicine is the medicine of many different names. The therapies that this medicine encompasses are constantly shifting and dependent on opinion and perspective. Consider the following list: acupuncture; biofeedback training; chiropractic; exercise; energy healing; herbal remedies; homeopathic treatment; hypnosis; imagery or relaxation techniques; massage therapy; nutritional/dietary advice; spiritual healing or prayer; traditional medicine (for example, Chinese or Indian medicine); meditation, vitamin therapy, and yoga. It is difficult to coin one term, which covers this entire list of diverse practices.

Some practitioners prefer the term Natural medicine. This term, however, can be somewhat misleading. While many of the products that are used in this type of medicine come from nature, many do not. For example, S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), a typical CAM remedy, doesn’t grow on a tree but is found circulating in our blood. However, it must be manufactured...More

Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

What is Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)?

  • This category of medicine goes by many names including alternative medicine, complementary medicine, natural medicine, and integrative medicine.
  • The terms describe an approach that (at times) can stand on its own as an alternative to standard medicine, and at other times is used as an add-on to standard medicine.
  • It includes many different practices including acupuncture, biofeedback training, chiropractic, exercise, energy healing, herbal remedies, homeopathic treatment, hypnosis, imagery or relaxation techniques, massage therapy, nutritional/dietary advice, spiritual healing or prayer, traditional medicine (for example, Chinese or Indian medicine), meditation, vitamin therapy, and yoga.

For more information 

How can I choose an appropriate complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioner?

  • While defining CAM medicine is hard, determining whether someone is a CAM practitioner is also difficult.
  • Not all CAM practitioners are created equal and choosing one requires some investigative work.
  • There is potential for harm from those who don't know what they are doing, who aren't aware of the harmful side effects of what they are prescribing, and who do not know about the dangers associated with the course of different illnesses.
  • Most good CAM practitioners have associations with standard medical practitioners and you should make sure to ask about this when interviewing them.
  • When visiting a practitioner, checking their background is essential.
  • Many good CAM practitioners attend certified schools and are licensed by the state in which they live; however, other practitioners do not have such education and oversight.
  • While attending a qualified school and being licensed does not necessarily guarantee that the person is honest and knowledgeable, it does amount to some measure of safety.
  • If practitioners you are thinking of working with are licensed, ask to see their license and check with the state licensing board if you have any questions about the provider or their practices.
  • If they are not licensed, then you should be more diligent about asking for references and training descriptions.

For more information

How safe is alternative medicine?

  • Many people associate the word "natural" with safe and think that alternative medicines must be ok, but this is often not the case.
  • While most CAM therapies are safe, natural substances can have side effects and/or interfere with conventional drugs (either by strengthening or weakening their effects).
  • CAM medicines have the advantage of being easily available over-the-counter without a prescription, which may lead to a false sense of security about their safety.
  • Supplement quality is also a concern because there is very little oversight of supplement manufacturing companies and these companies may at times skimp on ingredients or fail to follow good manufacturing practices.
  • Understanding that "natural" does not necessarily mean harmless is a good place to start.
  • Checking with your health care practitioner whenever you decide to start taking a new supplement is an essential part of taking care of yourself.

For more information

What is the role of Alternative Medicine in mental health care?

  • Alternative medicines for mental disorders occupy a supportive care role, for the most part.
  • However, for a few select mental disorders, there are well-researched supplements that may stand on their own and substitute for standard medicines.
  • St. John's Wort for depression and Kava for anxiety are two examples, but for the bulk of CAM therapies, though, this is not this case.
  • Research investigating the effectiveness of these treatments is either minimal, poorly done, or inconclusive.
  • The selection of a CAM therapy is best determined by the severity of your disease, how well it helps or hinders conventional therapy, and your willingness to try a therapy that is largely untested.
  • Using a good health care practitioner who can help you to integrate different therapies, along with avoiding drug interactions and other pitfalls, tends to be the most effective strategy for any health condition.

For more information 
For more information on the role of CAM treatment for Anxiety
For more information on the role of CAM treatment for Depression
For more information on the role of CAM treatment for Bipolar Disorder
For more information on the role of CAM treatment for Schizophrenia
For more information on the role of CAM treatment for ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)

News Articles

  • Acupuncture May Ease Pain Tied to Breast Cancer Care

    Some common breast cancer medications can trigger joint pain, but new research suggests acupuncture may ease that side effect. More...

  • Yoga May Give Lung Cancer Patients, Caregivers a Boost

    TUESDAY, Nov. 7, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- For advanced lung cancer patients, yoga appears to help improve their overall physical function, stamina and mental health. More...

  • Be 'Mindful' of the Hype

    Scientists call for rigorous research to back up mindfulness marketing claims. More...

  • Health Tip: Tai Chi May Help Prevent Falls

    Here's what one study found More...

  • Tibetan Yoga Improves Sleep Quality During Chemo

    Participation in a Tibetan yoga program during chemotherapy results in modest, short-term benefits in sleep quality, with long-term benefits seen over time for those who practice at least two times a week, according to a study published online Sept. 20 in Cancer. More...

  • 19 More
    • Yoga May Bring Better Sleep to Breast Cancer Patients

      As little as two times a week seemed to make a difference over long term. More...

    • Many Parents Don't Tell Doctor About 'Complementary' Therapy Use in Kids

      Hiding info from pediatricians could be risky for young patients, report authors say. More...

    • Meditation's Soothing Effects

      3 easy ways to explore this mind-body technique More...

    • Alternative Medicine Alone as Cancer Treatment Linked to Lowered Survival

      There's not much research into these therapies, study authors said. More...

    • Yoga May Boost Aging Brains

      Changes seen in areas involved with attention and memory, but it's not yet clear if yoga is the cause. More...

    • Yoga May Help Ease Depression

      It's not a cure-all but has great potential, leader of an American Psychological Association panel says. More...

    • Health Tip: Yoga Before Bed

      Positions that may help you sleep More...

    • Yoga Soothes Back Pain in Study

      Age-old practice did as good a job as physical therapy, but neither was a cure for all patients. More...

    • Meds Rooted in Ancient China May Help Heart: Review

      But U.S. experts greet report with caution, urge further research. More...

    • Yoga, Meditation May Ease Some Breast Cancer Symptoms

      But study into alternative therapies didn't find evidence to support using dietary supplements. More...

    • 10 Minutes of Meditation Can Up Focus for Patients With Anxiety

      Ten minutes daily of mindful meditation can improve focus among patients with anxiety, according to a report published in the May issue of Consciousness and Cognition. More...

    • Could Tai Chi Ease Insomnia in Breast Cancer Survivors?

      Study found it as effective as talk therapy for improving sleep and depression. More...

    • Meditation Can Help Improve Focus in People With Anxiety

      Just 10 minutes each day might boost concentration, prevent mind wandering, small study suggests. More...

    • 'Mindfulness' Probably Won't Cure Your Back Pain: Study

      But one specialist still isn't ruling out this complementary therapy. More...

    • Yoga Helps Ease Side Effects of Prostate Cancer Treatment

      Among prostate cancer patients, novice yoga practitioners experience renewed energy and fewer of the sexual and urinary symptoms tied to radiation treatment, compared with men who don't practice yoga, according to research published recently in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, and Physics. More...

    • It's Yoga to the Rescue for Prostate Cancer Patients

      Study suggests the ancient practice might ease side effects of therapy. More...

    • Hold That Pose: Yoga May Ease Tough Depression

      Study finds weekly sessions, plus deep breathing, helped ease cases when medications failed. More...

    • Health Tip: Get a Massage

      It may help your mind and body More...

    • Low Back Pain? Relax, Breathe and Try Yoga

      Review of 12 studies found small improvements in pain levels, function after 3 to 6 months. More...


Contact Us

Clinic Hours
8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Monday - Friday

By Phone
(907) 463-3303
(855) 463-3303 - Toll Free
(907) 463-6846 - TTY

By Fax
(907) 463-6858

Records Fax
(907) 463-3317

By Email

By Mail
Juneau Alliance for Mental Health, Inc.
3406 Glacier Hwy.
Juneau, AK 99801

powered by centersite dot net