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Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the use of health promoting services, products, or systems that are not generally included in traditional Western or conventional medicine (Edelman & Kudzma, 2018). Complementary medicine is when CAM is used in conjunction with traditional medicine while the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health defines alternative medicine as the use of CAM instead of conventional medicine (Edelman & Kudzma, 2018). While CAM is relatively new to the healthcare industry, the use of CAM dates back to more than 5000 years. With growing popularity in mainstream healthcare, nurse practitioners must understand the use of CAM and how to safely and effectively implement it to facilitate integrative care (Edelman & Kudzma, 2018).Biologically based practices are a sub-category of CAM, which includes herbal therapy and the use of other natural products. It is estimated that 80% of the world uses some sort of herbal therapy. Despite their popularity, there are few regulations regarding the manufacturing, quality control, and ingredients of herbal products (Edelman & Kudzma, 2018). While they are very loosely regulated, herbal remedies can interact with the body in the same way prescription drugs do. Given their potential reactions with prescription medications and complications with surgical interventions, it is important that the nurse practitioner understands these reactions and closely reviews the patient’s information. For instance, evidence shows that the hawthorn herb is an effective cardiotonic (Orhan, 2018). It can also have side effects such as nausea, fatigue, headaches, palpitations, etc. Given it’s cardiotonic effects, the nurse will want to carefully review any heart medications the patient is taking to avoid any interactions (Orhan, 2018). The nurse practitioner will need to be knowledgeable and provide the appropriate education while creating an open environment for the patient.


Complementary and alternative healthcare and medical practices (CAM) is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine (Tabish, S. A. (2008, January).


The list of practices that are considered as CAM changes continually as CAM practices and therapies that are proven safe and effective become accepted as the “mainstream” healthcare practices. Today, CAM practices may be grouped within five major domains: alternative medical systems, mind-body interventions, biologically-based treatments, manipulative and body-based methods and energy therapies (Tabish, S. A. (2008, January).  

As nurse practitioners it just really depends on what patient we are seeing and what alternative medicine would benefit them. One example is the use of natural products. It’s just important to be aware of any side effects of any natural products or contraindications in regards to current medication the patient may already be taking. That’s why when assessing your patients you need to also include any herbal supplements in your assessments. Probiotics are living microorganisms found in the human digestive track, such as friendly bacteria. They are taken to enhance the digestive system either as a supplement or in a natural form such as yogurt or other fermented foods (Edelman, C. L., & Kudzma, E. C.. (2018). As Nurse Practitioners probiotics or something that we can easily suggest that are approved and safe for most any patient to take. They help with a lot of digestive issues to regulate the system. No prescription is needed for probiotics, there is an over-the-counter option

There is scientific evidence supporting the incorporation of probiotics in nutrition as a means of derivation of health benefits. This evidence seems adequate concerning the prevention and treatment of certain conditions while simply promising or even controversial when it comes to others. The best documented effects include bowel disorders such as lactose intolerance, antibiotic-associated diarrhea and infectious diarrhea, and allergy, and emerging evidence accumulates concerning their potential role in various other conditions (Kechagia M et al. (n.d.). For this type of treatment there are not any negatives that I have found because you’re helping to increase the healthy bacteria in the gut.  


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