Complementary or Alternative Medicine Treatment: Pros and Cons

Many cases from medical practice provide ample opportunities for using different types of treatment. Undoubtedly, in most cases, the most appropriate option would be to use traditional medicine.

However, there are cases when patients cannot afford them, and then other treatment methods have to be used. One of them is complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) treatment. According to Lindquist, et al. (2018), “more and more people not only know about complementary therapies but are using them or considering using them” (p. 16). This is a wide range of methods and practices for diagnosing diseases or restoring health that operate outside the mainstream of treatment based on a medical model. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the pros and cons of using these types of treatments in medical practice.

CAM is a very capacious term that includes many areas of treatment. In addition to the practical methods of ethnoscience over the centuries, it includes services offered by unprofessional people who lack in-depth knowledge. Since CAM is an inaccurate concept, it is difficult to indicate its effectiveness. However, in my opinion, it is a valuable addition to traditional treatment methods. Sometimes it turns out to be salvation when academic medicine is helpless. Despite this, often using its methods does the patient more harm than good.

Most CAM treatment methods are based on the assumption that the disease affects a person as a unified whole. Considering this in the context of the general psychophysical state of the patient and environmental conditions, I would use CAM methods to find the source of the disease. On the contrary, academic medicine focuses mainly on a diseased organ, eliminating the direct causes and symptoms of the disease within the framework of clinical procedures. Therefore, CAM has an advantage over classical medicine: it would allow me to treat each patient individually, paying attention to all aspects of his life.

Another advantage of CAM treatment is the active participation of patients. In classical medicine, they would follow the strict instructions given by me as a doctor. Meanwhile, most alternative methods are based on the patients’ activity, their faith in healing, and readiness to change their lifestyle. Unconventional methods are often less aggressive to the body than synthetic drugs. In many cases, using CAM gives the same beneficial effect as using pharmaceuticals without side effects.

However, in addition to this, I think that CAM treatment has its drawbacks. Belcaro (2018) states that “the fact that complementary and alternative medicine is widely used is not a certification” (p. 4). Besides, this type of medicine is not based on scientific research, but on the experience of many generations. Thus, tradition does not make it automatically safe and effective. Given that life expectancy in developed countries has increased thanks to the achievements of academic medicine, it should be assumed that its effectiveness is higher than that of alternative medicine. CAM methods can be ineffective, reduce the effects of pharmacotherapy, and even negatively affect the body. Therefore, in the case of serious diseases, I would resort to them with extreme caution or refuse to use them.

CAM treatment has a significant number of both advantages and disadvantages. Thus, the most important thing is to maintain a rational approach. It means that I would choose specific treatment methods for each patient and correct them on time. This is the only way to achieve the most significant positive effect for the patients’ health using the broadest arsenal of tools created within the different areas of medicine.


Belcaro, G. V. (2018). Complementary, alternative methods and supplementary medicine. World Scientific.

Lindquist, R., Tracy, M. F., & Snyder, M. (2018). Complementary and alternative therapies in nursing. Springer Publishing Company.

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