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Last Updated: 11/09/12

Categories of CAM Therapies

Alternative Medical Systems

Alternative medical systems are built upon complete systems of theory and practice. Often, these systems have evolved apart from and earlier than the conventional medical approach used in the United States.


  • Acupuncture
  • Ayurveda
  • Homeopathy
  • Naturopathy
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Tibetan Medicine

Energy Therapies

Energy therapies involve the use of energy fields. There are two types:

Biofield therapies are intended to affect energy fields that purportedly surround and penetrate the human body. The existence of such fields has not yet been scientifically proven.


  • Qi gong
  • Reiki
  • Therapeutic touch

Electromagnetic-based therapies involve the unconventional use of electromagnetic fields, such as pulsed fields, magnetic fields, or alternating current or direct current fields.


  • Pulsed electromagnetic fields
  • Magnet therapy

Exercise Therapies

Exercise therapies include health-enhancing systems of exercise and movement.


  • T'ai chi
  • Yoga asanas

Manipulative and Body-based Methods

Manipulative and body-based methods in CAM are based on manipulation and/or movement of one or more parts of the body.


  • Chiropractic
  • Therapeutic massage
  • Osteopathy
  • Reflexology

Mind-body Interventions

Mind-body medicine uses a variety of techniques designed to enhance the mind's capacity to affect bodily function and symptom.


  • Meditation
  • Hypnosis
  • Art therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Imagery
  • Relaxation therapy
  • Support groups
  • Music therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Aromatherapy

Nutritional Therapeutics

Nutritional therapeutics are an assortment of nutrients and non-nutrients, bioactive food components used as chemo-preventive agents, and specific foods or diets used as cancer prevention or treatment strategies.


  • Macrobiotic diet
  • Vegetarianism
  • Gerson therapy
  • Kelley/Gonzalez regimen
  • Vitamins
  • Soy phytoestrogens
  • Antioxidants
  • Selenium
  • Coenzyme Q10

Pharmacological and Biologic Treatments

Pharmacological and biologic treatments include the off-label use of certain drugs, hormones, complex natural products, vaccines, and other biological interventions not yet accepted in mainstream medicine.


  • Antineoplastions
  • 714X
  • Low dose naltrexone
  • Immunoaugmentative therapy
  • Laetrile
  • Hydrazine sulfate
  • Melatonin

Sub-category: Complex Natural Products

Complex natural products are an assortment of plant samples (botanicals), extracts of crude natural substances, and un-fractionated extracts from marine organisms used for healing and treatment of disease.


  • Herbs and herbal extracts
  • Mistletoe
  • Mixtures of tea polyphenols
  • Shark cartilage

Spiritual Therapies

Spiritual therapies are therapies that focus on deep, often religious beliefs and feelings, including a person’s sense of peace, purpose, connection to others, and beliefs about the meaning of life.


  • Intercessory prayer
  • Spiritual healing