Complementary and alternative medicine can be grouped into five domains: biologically based practice, energy medicine, manipulative and body based practices, mind-body medicine and alternative (or whole) medical systems.
Biologically based practice in CAM uses treatments such as herbs, extracts, special diets or vitamins that are found in nature, to strengthen, heal or balance the body.
Energy medicine is based on the principle that all physical objects and psychological processes are expressions of energy. Energy medicine involves the use of two types of energy fields, biofield therapies that affect energy fields that surround and penetrate the body and bioelectromagnetic-based therapy that involves the use of electromagnetic fields to promote healing.
Manipulative and body based CAM is healing therapy based on the manipulation or movement of one or more parts of the body. Types of therapy include: chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation, reflexology, massage therapy, rolfing and postural reeducation.
Mind-body therapy uses the philosophy that one’s mental state has the ability to effect physiological bodily function. This includes prayer, yoga, meditation, relaxation, hypnosis and biofeedback.
Alternative (or whole) medical systems are complete systems and theories based on alternative medicinal approaches. Examples of alternative medical systems are Ayurveda, homeopathy, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.