Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a controversial area. In fact, even the term and its definition are not entirely agreed upon. Besides complementary and alternative medicine, other frequently used terms are unconventional medicine and integrative medicine. The term complementary medicine refers to therapies that are used in addition to conventional medicine, while the term alternative medicine is used to describe treatment that is used instead of conventional medicine.
There are many different definitions of CAM. These definitions frequently state what CAM “is not” as opposed to what it “is.” For example, in the United States, CAM is sometimes defined as medical therapy that is not widely taught at American medical schools or is not generally available in American hospitals. This definition recently has become less clear because CAM is now part of the curricula of many medical schools and is provided more often in the medical community. Also, as clinical trials are done to evaluate the effectiveness of CAM therapies, some forms of CAM may eventually become components of conventional medicine.