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Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is a burgeoning medical practice in the U.S.; nearly 40% of adults practice it in some form. CAM may resolve deficiencies in American healthcare, both in its cost and effectiveness. The United States spends more on healthcare than other nations but American life expectancy is relatively low. Many CAM philosophies focus on reducing stress and improving mental health. The American Psychological Association links stress to leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, liver cirrhosis, and suicide. Additionally, 75% of doctor visits are stress-related. The Australian government has recognized the potential of CAM to make healthcare sustainable and is currently funding projects to help recognize safe and effective CAM treatments. Although CAM may provide the same benefits to the U.S. healthcare system, it remains understudied and under-regulated. To safely add alternative medicine to our medical regimes requires understanding why particular demographics practice CAM, our regulatory policies surrounding CAM, and the terminology used to describe CAM. Because our nation’s healthcare spending is already high, integrating proven CAM treatments and CAM practitioners into our healthcare system is unrealistic. Rather, focusing on CAM philosophies, such as patient education and stress reduction, can help us start to make our healthcare system viable. Only after we reach the root of patient dissatisfaction and research CAM therapies compatible with modern medicine can we begin to safely merge these treatment systems.
O'Keefe, Abigail J., "Alternative Medicine: All Quack and No Bite? A Conversation About Integrating Alternative Medicine Into our Healthcare System" (2017). Biology Summer Fellows. 54.