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Defining ‘complementary and alternative medicine’


Samuel P. Trethewey ,

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, GB
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Julien Morlet,

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, GB
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Christopher S. Trethewey,

Leicester Cancer Research Centre, University of Leicester, GB
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Ella K.M. Reynolds

Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust, GB
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The topic of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is controversial. CAM is a confusing term used to encapsulate a broad range of health-related practices. In this article we explore several CAM practices including homeopathy and manipulation therapies such as osteopathy and chiropractic. We examine the difficulty in understanding the meaning of the term CAM and argue that the term is unhelpful and should be avoided in the education of healthcare professionals. Medical educators should be careful to highlight the heterogeneity of health-related practices in teaching and treat each health-related practice as an individual entity without the need for the umbrella term CAM.
How to Cite: Trethewey SP, Morlet J, Trethewey CS, Reynolds EKM. Defining ‘complementary and alternative medicine’. The British Student Doctor Journal. 2019;3(1):42–7. DOI:
Published on 31 Jan 2019.
Peer Reviewed


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