CAM Therapies, Practices, and Systems*
The following may or may not be considered a part of CAM, depending on one’s accepted definition of CAM. Practitioners provided the individual therapy definitions cited below.
Acupressure. Applying pressure to certain meridian points, similar to acupuncture, but without the use of needles.
Acupuncture. The Chinese art of stimulating the pathways of energy (14 main meridians plus branches) by puncturing, pressing, heating, using electrical current, or using herbal medicines.
Alexander Technique. Originally a technique used for respiratory re-education, now a comprehensive technique of psychophysical re-education to improve physical functioning.
Anthroposophy. A health care system defined by Rudolf Steiner. The study of the wisdom of the human being, inner development, and careful observation to more accurately reflect the patient as a whole and unique human being.
Apitherapy (Bee Venom). The use of bee products from the European honey bee to promote health and healing.
Applied Biomechanics. The use of biomechanical principals of human motion and structure of the human body as well as the laws of mechanics to prevent and treat injuries. Most commonly used in sports medicines.
Applied Kinesiology. A form of patient biofeedback. A muscle is tested to discover allergies, weaknesses in the body. Any muscle in the body may be used to test when the patient is exposed to a substance or a thought.
Aromatherapy. The skilled and controlled use of essential oils, volatile liquids distilled from plants, shrubs, trees, flowers, roots and seeds. They contain oxygenating molecules that transport the nutrients to cells of the body.
Art Therapy. Increase awareness of self; cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences; and enhance cognitive abilities through the practice of creating art. Includes talking about it with a trained art therapist.
Autogenic Therapy. The practice of “passive concentration,” a state of alert but detached awareness which allows the trainee to break through whatever excess stress is present. Western form of meditation.
Aversion Therapy. Exposure to an unpleasant stimuli while engaged in the targeted behavior. Usually associated with alcoholism and smoking.
Ayurvedic Medicine. A traditional health care system practiced in India. The “Science of Life.” People are categorized into three basic constitutional types, Pitta, Kapha, Vata, with many different subdivisions. Treatment of the same illness will be different based on the type determined by the physician.
Bach Flower Remedies. Restoration of balance to disrupted states of mind, addresses the underlying emotional causes of disease using flowering plants.
Balneotherapy. Practice of healing using bath preparations. Essential oils in a preparation that will dilute in water.
Biofeedback. A treatment technique in which people train their bodies to respond to specific signals in their body. Used often to lower blood pressure and to slow heart rates.
Body Electronics. Preparing a client nutritionally and then using a specialized form of sustained acupressure.
Bowen Therapy. Gentle moves on the skin or through light clothing designed to result in overall relaxation, allowing the body to recharge, and cleanse itself.
Holotropic. Experiential method combining deep relaxation, expanded breathing, music, art and focused energy work.
Transformational. Directed breathing exercises to massage internal organs and tone diaphragm and abdominal muscles. The high volume of oxygen absorbed by the lungs cleanses and revitalizes the organ systems.
Cell Therapy (not done in U.S.). Injection of healthy cellular material into the body to assist the body in its natural ability to heal.
Cheirology (Palmistry). The art of hand analysis. A combination of the
ancient Chinese Buddhist hand analysis and the best of traditional Western palmistry. A dialogue and touch therapy.
Chelation Therapy. A slow drip IV injection of a synthetic amino acid used for the purpose of removing plaque and calcium deposits from arteries.
Chiropractic. Based on a procedure that evaluates causative factors in the biomechanical and structural derangements of the spine that may effect the nervous system and organs.
Chromatotherapy. See Color Therapy.
Luminous. The use of colors of the light spectrum to treat illness at three levels, at the ailment, at the eye level, and at the acupuncture point level.
Molecular. Using the same wavelength as luminous, but derived from matter. Used on the skin or orally.
Coaching. The art of working with individuals to eliminate barriers in reaching their personal and professional goals, includes dialogue and “homework assignments.”
Cognitive Therapy. Short-term, focused psychotherapy. Used in treatment of depression, anxiety, anger, marital conflict, loneliness, and panic, among others.
Colon Hydrotherapy. The cleansing of the entire large intestine with a gentle enema-type system using filtered water and gentle abdominal massage.
Color Therapy. Known also as chromatotherapy, based on the concept that colors vibrate at different frequencies and can stimulate different responses in a person and the use of specific colors in a person’s environment may promote balance and healing.
Contact Reflex Analysis (CRA). A natural system for analyzing the body’s structural, physical, and nutritional needs. Most commonly used by chiropractors.
Craniosacral Therapy. This therapy focuses on the eight bones of the cranial vault in conjunction with the spine and sacrum, and the cerebrospinal fluid. Light touch creates relaxation and a sense of energy moving within your body.
Crystal Therapy (Gemstone Therapy). The practice of using crystals of different minerals to treat various disharmonies in the body.
Cupping (Moxibustion). The placement of burning mugwort, a plant containing complex volatile oils such as camphor, at acupuncture points to stimulate qi and healing.
Detoxification Therapy. The various processes used to rid the body of toxins absorbed from the atmosphere, food, soil, and water.
Didjeridoo. A form of sound therapy, this aboriginal wind instrument
has been used for healing for 40,000 years. Circular breathing supported by the sound frequency reaches deep into the subconscious.
Dream Therapy. The interpretation of dreams to assist in addressing problems and support resolution.
Ear Candling. Ear candles or cones of unbleached cotton or linen strips dipped in paraffin, beeswax, or herbs are burned, sending smoke and warmth inside the ear creating a vacuum effect to loosen buildup of wax and other debris.
Electrotherapy (TENS). Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. Any form of medical treatment that uses electricity as a cure or relief. For example, as a way of stimulating nerves and connected muscles.
Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping). Also called Thought Field Therapy. A brief, effective psychotherapy for the rapid resolution of negative emotions; tapping with your fingertips on the acupuncture meridian points while repeating some specific phrases.
Energy Field Medicine. Seven major Chakras, vortexes of energy within the human body, serve as a network of mind-body-spiritual energies.
Enzyme Therapy. Diet supplemented with plant-derived enzymes and pancreatic enzymes either independent of each other or in combinations determined by the prescriber.
Essences Therapy. Similar to Bach flower remedies. Water-based infusion activated by natural sunlight, stabilized usually with brandy.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). The treatment of patients using guided eye movement while mentally focused on whatever mental image, negative thought, or body sensation the client wishes to address.
Fasting (Cleansing). The complete abstinence from all substances except purified water in an environment of total rest. Benefits include the promotion of detoxification and it gives the digestive system a rest.
Feldenkrais Method. A blend of science and aesthetics, uses two approaches to healing. “Awareness Through Movement,” directing students to move in specific ways related to early basic movements, and “Functional Integration,” movement custom tailored to the unique needs of each student.
Gerson Therapy. Combination of vigorous detoxification with nutrition aimed at restoring the body’s natural immunity and healing power.
Gestalt Therapy. Challenging a client with questions that increase awareness of feelings and so develop a stronger ability to face day-to-day situations and problems.
Guided Imagery. The use of relaxation and mental visualization to improve mood and or physical well-being.
Healing Touch. An energy based therapeutic approach to healing. Using hands-on and energy-based techniques to balance and align the human energy field.
Hellerwork. Similar to Rolfing. Stress-reducing body realignment, which adds verbal dialogue and emotional release to connective tissue bodywork and body movement education.
Herbal Medicine. The use of any plants seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, or flowers for medicinal purposes.
Homeopathy. A philosophy of treatment “That which is similar ends suffering.” Toxic remedies from raw materials and plants are administered in a highly diluted form to stimulate the body’s own healing mechanisms.
Humor Therapy. Using laughter to release endorphins, increasing the body’s ability to heal itself.
Huna. The exploration of body, mind, and spirit through shamanism and ancient Hawaiian healing. Increasing your own spirituality and healing powers.
Hydrogen Peroxide Therapy. Based on the theory, when injected into the vein, hydrogen peroxide is converted to water and singlet oxygen, an oxidizing agent, which inhibits growth of bacteria and viruses and enhances enzymatic metabolism.
Hydrotherapy. The placement of alternating heat and cold water to the skin in order to redirect the flow of blood.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. The delivery of pure oxygen at two to three times that of sea level. Among its uses is the treatment of leg ulcers that do not respond to other therapies.
Hyperthermia. Heat treatment to selectively destroy cancer cells using heating rods, microwaves, ultra sound, thermal blankets lasers, or pyrogens to induce fever.
Hypnotherapy. Intense focused concentration with partial or complete exclusion of awareness of peripheral phenomenon. Among its clinical uses are the treatment of pain, habit disorders, nausea, relaxation, and anxiety.
Iridology. The iris of the eye reveals abnormal conditions of the tissues, organs, and glands of the body. Diagnosis of disease is not made, but conditions of various parts of the body are revealed.
Jaffe-Mellor Technique (JMT). A bioenergetic technique utilizing kinesiology and acupressure to relieve pain and symptoms associated with osteoarthritis, RA, and other complex health disorders.
Jin Shin Jyutsu. A gentle oriental art practiced by placing fingertips (over clothing) on (26) designated “safety energy locks” to harmonize and restore balance.
Juice Therapy. The use of raw vegetables and fruits turned into juice to make it easier to assimilate. Taken on an empty stomach, it is absorbed within 15 minutes.
Kegel Exercises. A form of biofeedback exercise. Pelvic floor exercises focus on women’s abdominal organs and muscles.
Kirlian Photography. Photography of the body’s auras and energy flow.
Light Therapy. Use of light, from natural sun exposure to high-tech sophisticated forms of light-assisted psychotherapy to treat physical and psychological disorders.
Macrobiotics. Changing or managing your diet for spiritual and healthful ends. Diet excludes meats and emphasizes whole grains.
Magnet Therapy. Use of natural and manmade magnets to enhance energy fields around and within the body to enhance healing.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD). A highly systematic method of stimulating lymph flow through the entire body using a range of specialized and gentle rhythmic pumping techniques. This stimulates the lymphatic vessels that carry substances vital to the defense of the body and removes waste products.
Marma Therapy. A form of healing massage focusing on 108 points on the body where vein, artery, tendon, bone, and flesh meet.
Massage Therapy. A general term for a wide range of therapeutic techniques involving the manipulation of muscles and soft tissues, including kneading, rubbing, tapping, friction, vigorous or relaxing, deep or superficial.
Medical Intuitive. The utilization of a focused, intuitive instinct to “diagnose” or “read” energetic and frequency information in and around the human body.
Meditation. Relaxation and transformation therapy focusing mind on specific healing thoughts.
Transcendental Meditation™. A program specifically designed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Mind-Body Medicine. A philosophy and a system of health practices that is based on the concept that the mind and the body work together for healing.
Music Therapy. The prescribed use of music by a qualified person to effect positive changes in the psychological, physical, cognitive, or social functioning of individuals with health or educational problems.
NAET (Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Therapy). A combination of disciplines including kinesiology and acupressure designed to identify and eliminate allergies. The treatment stimulates acupuncture points along the spine while patient holds an allergen.
Naprapathy. Manipulation, mobilization, and soft tissue methods similar in some ways to chiropractic, but specializes in health problems that originate in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Nasal Irrigation. Saline solution (noniodized salt, baking soda, and water) inhaled through nostril to clear mucus and reduce cough caused by post nasal drip.
Naturopathic Medicine. A system of primary health care which uses a holistic natural approach to health and healing, emphasizing the treatment
of disease through stimulation, enhancement, and support of the inherent healing capacity of the person.
Naturopathy. The basic philosophy of Naturopathic Medicine, practiced by both licensed Naturopathic Doctors and other CAM practitioners.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). The study of the structure of subjective experience and what can be calculated from that, predicated upon the belief that all behavior has structure.
Neuromuscular Therapy (Trigger Point Myotherapy). Consists of alternating levels of concentrated pressure on the areas of muscle spasm using fingers, knuckles, or elbows.
Nutritional Therapy. Use of food and supplements to encourage the body’s own natural healing.
Orthomolecular Medicine. The prescription of large doses of vitamins and minerals, based on the philosophy that each individual is biochemically unique and therefore nutritional deficiencies affect certain people more than others.
Ozone-Oxygen Therapy (Bio-oxidative Therapy). Small amounts of hydrogen peroxide and ozone are administered into the body as medicine.
Panchakarma Therapy. Ayruvedic herbal remedies designed to balance and cleanse, restore harmony.
Past Life Therapy. Treatment and release of phobias and emotional blockages through a regression process which explores past life traumas.
Pet Therapy. Animals of all sizes and breeds respond well to CAM therapies that stimulate their own natural powers; sometimes they are more responsive than human beings.
Pilates. Systematic practice of specific exercises coupled with focused breathing patterns.
Polarity. A system based on the belief that the flow and balance of energy in the body is the underlying foundation of health. The body’s own electrical flow to muscles and organs is opened through a process of bodywork, diet, exercise and self-awareness.
Pranic Healing. Comprehensive system of subtle energy healing that utilized “prana” in balancing, harmonizing, and transforming the body’s energy process.
Prayer. Some cultures and religions believe that prayer is the most powerful medicine.
Prolotherapy. Nonsurgical ligament reconstruction, treatment for chronic pain. Dextrose solution is injected into ligament or tendon where it attaches to the bone; inflammation increases blood supply and stimulates body’s natural healing ability.
QiGong. Literally means “energy cultivation”; refers to exercises aimed at bringing about harmony, as well as improving health and longevity. Healing methods involve breathing, movement, the mind, and the eyes.
Radiance Technique (TRT). 7-degree transcendental energy system similar to Reiki.
Rapid Eye Technology. A transformational technology that facilitates healing on all levels. The client follows a lighted wand with their eyes, while the therapist gives verbal clues designed to release physical, emotional, or mental stress.
Reflexology. Noninvasive acupressure of the hands and feet. Points on the feet and hands correspond to various zones and organs throughout the body. Precise pressure on these reflex points stimulates energy and releases blockages to the specific area of pain or illness.
Reiki. An ancient Tibetan tradition, hand symbols and breathing draw in and manipulate energy forces to effect a balance. Power source energy travels through the Reiki practitioner into the client’s body.
Relaxation Therapy. A variety of physical, mental, spiritual, and recreational methods of relaxing the body and the mind.
Rolfing (Somatic Ontology, Structural Integration). The Rolfer slowly stretches and repositions the body’s supportive wrappings, called fascia, with firm and gently directed pressure, to restore normal length and elasticity to the network of deep connective fibers.
Rosen Method. Mind, bodywork, and movement; combines emotional psychotherapy with physical awareness.
Rubenfeld Synergy. A holistic therapy that integrates body, mind, spirit and emotions using gentle touch, along with verbal dialogue, active listening, Gestalt Process, imagery, metaphor, movement, and humor.
Shamanism. Traditional native healing systems practiced throughout the world. Archaic magico-religious phenomenon in which the shaman may use fire, wind, or magical flight as part of a healing ceremony.
Shiatsu. A type of bodywork from Japan that uses acupuncture energy meridians to activate and balance the body’s energy (chi).
Spiritual Healing. A healing philosophy incorporating the concept of spiritual energy as a healing force; using prayer, meditation, individual, or group spiritual resources and other methods of focusing thought energy.
Stress Management. Based on the belief that stress creates a “dis-ease” climate within the body, by reducing stress, the body’s own natural healing resources are enhanced, such as the immune system.
Tai Chi. Balanced gentle movements, incorporating a combination of meditation and breathing, are designed to dissolve physical and karmic layers of tension in both the physical body and the energy body, and to open up the spiritual space inside.
TAO. A philosophy often related to CAM practices. The definition of Tao is “the way,” “the law”; the rule of Tao is living in total harmony with the natural world.
Therapeutic Touch. Hands do not touch body, but perform smoothing and soothing movements above the body, “massaging” the human energy field surrounding body; involving mind, body, emotion, and spirit.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (Oriental Medicine). The ancient (and modern) theory of medicine with unique diagnostic methods and systematic approach includes medication, pharmacology, herbology, acupuncture, massage, and QiGong.
Transsage. The use of therapeutic massage, deep relaxation (hypnosis), guided imagery, metaphors, and affirmations with the goal of increasing mental focus.
Trager Method. Based on the theory that patterns of stiffness and aging exist more in the unconscious mind than in the tissues, this method re-educates the body/mind to release old holding patterns that limit us physically and mentally. Rhythmic movement and soothing rocking is used.
Transpersonal Psychology. The extension of psychological studies into conciousness studies, spiritual inquiry, body-mind relationships, and transformations.
Trepanation. A small hole is drilled in the skull (solely in the bone, not entering the brain), to allow an expansion window in the brain to permanently regain its youth.
Tuina. 2000-year-old Chinese massage, like acupuncture (without needles) Tuina works with the Qi (chi) energy of patients.
Urani Medicine. Traditional herbal healing system of ancient Persia and modern India, Australia, and other countries.
Urine Therapy. Using (your own) urine externally and internally to provide nutrients, purify blood and tissue, and signal what is out of balance.
Visualization. Similar to Guided Imagery. Creative visualization is the art of sending an image to your subconscious mind, and your subconscious mind will begin to create what it “sees.”
Visceral Manipulation. Based on the specific placement of soft manual force to encourage normal mobility, tone, and inherent tissue motion of the viscera and their connective tissues.
Vitamin Therapy. Use of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, fatty acids, and other nutritional support.
Watsu. A creative blend of meridian stretches, Indian chakra work, acupressure, Zen Sciatsu, and yoga movements performed in warm water.
Wave Work. A psycho-spiritual process for integration, based on deeper teachings of Yoga. Using breath and awareness of sensation to allow an organic shift in consciousness.
Yoga. A general term for a wide range of body-mind exercise practices, traditionally referred to as the art of “yoking” or hooking up the lower consciousness with the higher consciousness. Combines breathing, move-