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Complementary & Alternative Medicine

What are complementary and alternative medicines (CAM)?

"Many Americans use medical treatments that are not part of mainstream medicine. These types of care may be called complementary, alternative, or integrative medicine.

Complementary medicine is used together with mainstream medical care. An example is using acupuncture to help with side effects of cancer treatment. Alternative medicine is used instead of mainstream medical care. An example is taking an herbal preparation instead of a prescription drug. When health care providers and facilities offer both complementary and mainstream medical care, it is called integrative medicine." (Source)


These databases provide access to scientific and clinical literature, updated clinical information, or fact sheets on complementary and alternative medicine. These databases are updated frequently with new information. 


Ebooks are never updated after being published. These can be useful, but will have less up-to-date content than a database. Search the library catalog to find more ebooks on CAM topics.

Catalog Search with Options (Primo)

Catalog Search

Consumer Health

Websites and books using plain language to discuss CAM topics. 

Research Assistance from Norris Medical Library

Search tips for CAM topics

- Computers are literal and search for exact matches to words. Searching for "St. John's Wort" will not retrieve articles discussing "Saint Johns Wort" as St and Saint are different words. Use alternative spellings (St, Saint) and try searches with and without punctuation (John's, Johns).

- For plant-based therapies, search using the plant's common and scientific names. Plants may have more than one common name, especially plants that grow on more than one continent. Use the ITIS database to translate between common and scientific names and to discover alternate common names.

 - Start with precise terms and gradually expand. If you cannot find information on a specific herb using its species name, try the genus (e.g. St John's Wort is also known as hypericum perforatum. If this retrieves no results, search for hypericum alone). If you cannot find a therapy by name, search for the system of medicine in which it is used (e.g. if no results are found for cupping, try searching for Traditional Chinese Medicine).