There are many terms used to describe health care approaches that are outside the focus of traditional medicine and its practices in America and abroad. Complementary and alternative medicine, also known as CAM, is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are used together with conventional medicine to support complete health and wellness.
Types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Often, CAM therapies are used in conjunction with conventional medical techniques to promote health and wellness. Some of these methods include homeopathic medicine, naturopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, energy therapies, and yoga.
As well, biologically based therapies are substances found in nature, such as foods, herbs, and vitamins. Some of these include dietary supplements, glyconutrients, herbal products, and the use of other natural therapies to support optimal well-being. In just the last 25 years, there has been a huge boom in the supplement industry, driven by poor diet, growing public awareness, and advancements in science.
Dietary supplements are products taken orally that contain a “dietary ingredient” intended to supplement the diet. They are meant to be included with your healthy diet and not be substituted for a healthy diet. These supplements may include vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, and metabolites. They come in many forms, including powders, capsules, concentrates, tablets, extracts, gel caps, and liquids.
During the early to mid-1990s, scientists began to realize the importance of carbohydrates beyond the common belief that they were simply used by the body to create energy. Approximately 200 monosaccharides are found in nature, but only a handful are thought to be necessary for cells to communicate effectively with each other.
With these new exciting discoveries, a new field of science and study was created, called glycobiology. Glycobiology is a field of science that focuses on the role carbohydrates play in the body’s biology. Nutritionists have long known of the energy value of carbohydrates, however, it is only in the last few years that it has become increasingly apparent that certain carbohydrates are much more important to cell function than as simple energy sources. Biochemistry textbooks are being rewritten to include basic information on this new science. Harper’s Biochemistry medical textbook included an entire new chapter devoted to glycoproteins, stating that there is evidence that some of these eight plant-based sugars may be beneficial when added to a person’s diet.
Science has demonstrated that certain sugars are used by the body’s cells to create special glycoforms on the surface of the cells. Research and testimonials have shown that the immune system and the overall health can be improved through supplementing with these special plant-based polysaccharides, also referred to as sugars that heal. Glycoforms are tree-like structures covering the microscopic surface of nearly all our cells. The function of these tree-like structures was unknown to scientists and doctors only a few decades ago, but now science has discovered that they are essential for the cell-to-cell interaction and communication.
These molecules allow cells to recognize each other, identifying which cells are liver cells, which cells are lung tissue cells, which cells need certain nutrients, or even which cells are mutated cells that need to be destroyed. Your body knows that it cannot even function without these, since they are so important, and so your body will spend valuable energy trying to create these if they are not present in your diet.