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Complementary & Alternative Medicine

CAM is often described as a diverse group of health care systems, practices, and products that are generally not considered a part of conventional Western medicine. Examples of CAM practices are massage and acupuncture and products such as herbs, supplements and mind-body medicine, and other alternative therapies. CAM treatments may have originated as a health care system in another culture or as a more recent therapy or practice that arose outside of conventional care.

“It was initially believed that people who used CAM were dissatisfied with their physicians and used CAM as an alternative to conventional Western care” according to Dr. Harley Goldberg, Director of our Complementary and Alternative Medicine Program in Northern California. “It turns out this isn’t true. Most people who use CAM are very satisfied with their physicians but have a chronic medical condition that continues to be a problem, or they are trying to promote their health.”

CAM and conventional medicine have the same goals: health and well-being. A natural medicines database at kp.org/naturalmedicines gives you comprehensive information about different substances. If guided imagery programs appeal to you, we have several available online at kp.org/listen.

Whether you choose CAM, conventional medicine, or a combination of both, Kaiser Permanente relies on safe, effective treatments and promotes healthy lifestyle choices. We invite you to explore these resources and talk with your doctor about your health program.

Learn More about Complementary Medicine