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There are many terms used to describe approaches to health care that are outside the realm of conventional medicine as practiced in the United States. This fact sheet explains how the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a component of the National Institutes of Health, defines some of the key terms used in the field of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

What is complementary and alternative medicine?
Complementary and alternative medicine, as defined by NCCAM, is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. While some scientific evidence exists regarding some CAM therapies, for most there are key questions that are yet to be answered through well-designed scientific studies – questions such as whether they are safe and whether they work for the diseases or medical conditions for which they are used.
The list of what is considered to be CAM changes continually, as those therapies that are proven to be safe and effective become adopted into conventional health care and as new approaches to health care emerge.
Are complementary medicine and alternative medicine different from each other?
Yes, they are different.

Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine. An example of a complementary therapy is using aromatherapy to help lessen a patient's discomfort following surgery.

Alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. An example of alternative therapy is using a special diet to treat cancer instead of undergoing surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy that is recommended by a conventional doctor.

What are the major types of complementary and alternative medicine?

NCCAM classifies CAM therapies into five categories, or domains:

1. Alternative Medical Systems

Alternative medical systems are built upon complete systems of theory and practice. Often, these systems have evolved apart from and earlier than the conventional medical approach used in the United States. Examples of alternative medical systems that have developed in Western cultures include homeopathic medicine and naturopathic medicine. Examples of systems that have developed in non-Western cultures include traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.

2. Mind-Body Interventions

Mind-body medicine uses a variety of techniques designed to enhance the mind's capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms. Some techniques that were considered CAM in the past have become mainstream (for example, patient support groups and cognitive-behavioral therapy). Other mind-body techniques are still considered CAM, including meditation, prayer, mental healing, and therapies that use creative outlets such as art, music, or dance.

3. Biologically Based Therapies

Biologically based therapies in CAM use substances found in nature, such as herbs, foods, and vitamins. Some examples include dietary supplements, herbal products, and the use of other so-called "natural," but as yet scientifically unproven therapies (for example, using shark cartilage to treat cancer).

4. Manipulative and Body-Based Methods

Manipulative and body-based methods in CAM are based on manipulation and/or movement of one or more parts of the body. Some examples include chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, and massage.

5. Energy Therapies

Energy therapies involve the use of energy fields. They are of two types:

  • Biofield therapies are intended to affect energy fields that purportedly surround and penetrate the human body. The existence of such fields has not yet been scientifically proven. Some forms of energy therapy manipulate biofields by applying pressure and/or manipulating the body by placing the hands in, or through, these fields. An example is Therapeutic Touch.

  • Bioelectromagnetic-based therapies involve the unconventional use of electromagnetic fields, such as pulsed fields, magnetic fields, or alternating current or direct current fields.

What is NCCAM's role in the field of complementary and alternative medicine?
NCCAM is the Federal Government's lead agency for scientific research on complementary and alternative medicine. NCCAM's mission is to explore complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science, to train CAM researchers, and to inform the public and health professionals about the results of CAM research studies.


Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils (extracts or essences) from flowers, herbs, and trees to promote health and well-being.

Chiropractic: Chiropractic is an alternative medical system. It focuses on the relationship between bodily structure (primarily that of the spine) and function, and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health. Chiropractors use manipulative therapy as an integral treatment tool.
Dietary supplements: Dietary supplements were defined by Congress in 1994 as a product (other than tobacco) taken by mouth that contains a "dietary ingredient" intended to supplement the diet. Dietary ingredients may include vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, and metabolites. They have special requirements for labeling. Under DSHEA, dietary supplements are considered foods, not drugs.
Bioelectromagnetics: Bioelectro-magnetics is the study of how living organisms interact with electromagnetic fields. Changes in the body’s natural fields are thought to possibly produce physical and behavioral changes.
Massage therapy: Massage therapists manipulate muscle and connective tissue to enhance function of those tissues and promote relaxation and well-being.

Hypnosis or hypnotherapy: These therapies are based on artificially induced sleep like state in which an individual becomes extremely responsive to suggestions made by the hypnotist.

Yoga: Yoga is a Hindu discipline aimed at training the consciousness for a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility. that uses a system of exercises practiced to promote control of the body and mind.
Acupuncture: Based on the belief that yin and yang, must be in balance to keep the normal flow of energy unblocked, and maintain or restore health to the body and mind. The procedure consists of the insertion of needles at specific points in the skin to restore this internal energy balance the body requires to heal itself.


The decision to use complementary and alternative treatments is an important one. The following are topics should be considered before selecting an alternative therapy and/or practitioner:

Assess the Safety and Effectiveness of the Therapy

Generally, safety means that the benefits outweigh the risks of a treatment or therapy. A safe product or practice is one that does no harm when used under defined conditions and as intended.

Examine the Practitioner's Expertise

Health consumers may want to take a close look into the back-ground, qualifications, and competence of any potential health care practitioner, whether a physician or a practitioner of alternative and complementary health care. Contact a State or local regulatory agency with authority over practitioners who practice the therapy or treatment you seek. Most types of complementary and alternative practices have national organizations of practitioners that are familiar with legislation, State licensing, certification, or registration laws.

Consider the Service Delivery

The quality of the service delivery, or how the treatment or therapy is given and under what conditions, is an important issue. However, quality of service is not necessarily related to the effectiveness or safety of a treatment or practice.

Consider the Costs

Costs are an important factor to consider as many complementary and alternative treatments are not currently reimbursed by health insurance. Many patients pay directly for these services. Ask your practitioner and your health insurer which treatments or therapies are reimbursable.

Consult Your Healthcare Provider

Most importantly, discuss all issues concerning treatments and therapies with your health care provider, whether a physician or practitioner of CAM.
Competent health care management requires knowledge of both conventional and alternative therapies for the practitioner to have a complete picture of your treatment plan.



Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical procedures in the world. Originating in China more than 2,000 years ago, acupuncture began to become better known in the United States in 1971, when New York Times reporter James Reston wrote about how doctors in China used needles to ease his abdominal pain after surgery. Research shows that acupuncture is beneficial in treating a variety of health conditions.

In the past two decades, acupuncture has grown in popularity in the United States. A Harvard University study published in 1998 estimated that Americans made more than five million visits per year to acupuncture practitioners. The report from a Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1997 stated that acupuncture is being "widely" practiced – by thousands of physicians, dentists, acupuncturists, and other practitioners – for relief or prevention of pain and for various other health conditions.

Acupuncture Theories

Traditional Chinese medicine theorizes that there are more than 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body, and that these connect with 12 main and 8 secondary pathways called meridians. Chinese medicine practitioners believe these meridians conduct energy, or qi (pronounced "chee"), throughout the body.

Qi is believed to regulate spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical balance and to be influenced by the opposing forces of yin and yang. According to traditional Chinese medicine, when yin and yang are balanced, they work together with the natural flow of qi to help the body achieve and maintain health. Acupuncture is believed to balance yin and yang, keep the normal flow of energy unblocked, and maintain or restore health to the body and mind.

Mechanisms of Action

Several processes have been proposed to explain acupuncture's effects, primarily those on pain. Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals either change the experience of pain or release other chemicals, such as hormones, that influence the body's self-regulating systems. The biochemical changes may stimulate the body's natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being. that are injured or vulnerable to disease.

NIH Consensus Statement on Acupuncture:

Acupuncture as a therapeutic intervention is widely practiced in the United States. While there have been many studies of its potential usefulness, many of these studies provide equivocal results because of design, sample size, and other factors. The issue is further complicated by inherent difficulties in the use of appropriate controls, such as placebos and sham acupuncture groups. However, promising results have emerged, for example, showing efficacy of acupuncture in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative dental pain. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma, in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program. Further research is likely to uncover additional areas where acupuncture interventions will be useful.

Increasingly, acupuncture is complementing conventional therapies. For example, doctors may combine acupuncture and drugs to control surgery-related pain in their patients. By providing both acupuncture and certain conventional anesthetic drugs, some doctors have found it possible to achieve a state of complete pain relief for some patients. They also have found that using acupuncture lowers the need for conventional pain-killing drugs and thus reduces the risk of side effects for patients who take the drugs. Currently, one of the main reasons Americans seek acupuncture treatment is to relieve chronic pain, especially from conditions such as arthritis or lower back disorders. Some clinical studies show that acupuncture is effective in relieving both chronic (long-lasting) and acute or sudden pain, but other research indicates that it provides no relief from chronic pain. Additional research is needed to provide definitive answers.

FDA's Role

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners in 1996. The FDA requires manufacturers of acupuncture needles to label them for single use only. Relatively few complications from the use of acupuncture have been reported to the FDA when one considers the millions of people treated each year and the number of acupuncture needles used. Still, complications have resulted from inadequate sterilization of needles and from improper delivery of treatments. When not delivered properly, acupuncture can cause serious adverse effects, including infections and punctured organs.

Sensation of Acupuncture

Acupuncture needles are metallic, solid, and hair-thin. People experience acupuncture differently, but most feel no or minimal pain as the needles are inserted. Some people are energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed. Improper needle placement, movement of the patient, or a defect in the needle can cause soreness and pain during treatment. This is why it is important to seek treatment from a qualified acupuncture practitioner.


Acupuncture is believed to balance yin and yang, keep the normal flow of energy unblocked, and maintain or restore health to the body and mind. The procedure consists of the insertion of needles at specific points in the skin to restore this internal energy balance the body requires to heal itself.

  • Ancient art

  • Treats a variety of conditions including chronic pain, obesity, nicotine addiction, chemo-induced nausea, asthma, some muscle and joint discomforts

  • One of the most thoroughly researched alternative practices

  • Increasingly complementing conventional therapies

  • Some practitioners also use heat, pressure, friction, suction, or electrical impulses to stimulate points

  • Practiced by physicians, dentists, acupuncturists, and other practitioners

  • Acupuncture points have certain electrical properties and stimulating these points alters chemical transmitters in the body


“Herbal Medicine”- using plants and plant products from folk traditions for pharmacological use.

Other terms used to describe herbal medicines or supplements- botanicals, "natural" supplements, nutritional supplements, phytomedicines, herbal remedies, and herbal supplements.
The study of herbs dates back around 5000 years to the Sumerians, who described well-established medicinal uses for such plants as laurel, caraway, and thyme.
There were people, usually called the medicine man, who had great knowledge of the plants and herbs of the area; knowledge of what the plants did and how to use them.
The first known written information was in about BC 2700, is of Chinese origin and lists 365 medicinal plants and their uses.
Due to legal and regulatory restraints, herbal “medicines” are usually labeled “dietary supplements” or “herbal supplements.” “Medicines” are considered drugs and are subject to the rigorous regulation imposed on drugs.

To assist in assuring that herbal manufacturers provide material information about their products, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) has developed specific labeling guidelines for a number of botanical ingredients.

All supplements, including herbs, vitamins, minerals, etc., must conform to Federal regulations that control their manufacture, labeling, and advertising. In order to sell an herbal supplement, a manufacturer must meet many different Federal (and sometimes state) regulations, and must also adhere to state and local health and business regulations.

Caution should be used when using herbs for many reasons:

  • Herbals are virtually unregulated. You are not protected by the same government controls exercised over prescription and OTC drugs.

  • Lack of knowledge about herbals. Only now are medical, pharmacy and other professional schools gearing up to give their students the kind of intense instructions they should have on the subject.

  • Some herbal medicines are unsafe, ineffective, and potential killers.

Consult your doctor, pharmacist or other qualified professional before taking an herbal medicine.

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act defines dietary supplements as a:

  • product (other than tobacco) intended to supplement the diet that bears or contains one or more of the following dietary ingredients: a vitamin, mineral, amino acid, herb or other botanical;


  • a dietary substance for use to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake;


  • a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract, or combination of any ingredient described above;


  • intended for ingestion in the form of a capsule, powder, soft gel, or gel cap, and not represented as a conventional food or as a sole item of a meal or the diet.

Massage is a form of passive exercise that relieves tension and pain. Massage activates the thicker tactile receptors in the skin, which compete with pain signals. When a body part therapeutically stroked or kneaded, the action can effectively relieve pain.
Examples of physiological benefits include pain relief, increased range of motion, increased circulation, improved skin health. Psychological benefits include relaxation, stress relief, and a sense of increased energy and vitality.
This type of healing is seen as a two-way street. Attention to communication, concern, empathy, and a desire to promote healing will encourage the patient to understand the potential source of healing in his or her own consciousness. The patient can be helped to avoid depression, feelings of hopelessness, and despair; instead, can focus on positive attitudes that involve being a capable and active participate in the treatment process.
Massage therapy can be used on all parts of the body and may involve several techniques:
Effleurage -involves gentle strokes that glide over the skin without attempting to move deeper structures

-often used during pregnancy and childbirth

-aids in relaxing abdominal muscles
Petrissage -deep massage where muscles are lifted and squeezed gently in a kneading or rolling action
Friction -using fingertips, thumb, or the heel of the hand

-small, circular movements that press into muscles

-can be used to massage deep into joint spaces

-traditional backrub

-can be used around scars to break down adhesions
Vibration -fine, tremulous movements with the fingers or by using a mechanical device
Tapotement -uses a series of brisk blows of various types

-types include hacking, cupping, slapping, tapping,

quacking, pincement, skritchies


  • Chiropractic champions a natural method of healing, advocating a non-surgical, non-invasive, and drugless treatment of patients.

  • Chiropractic is based upon a simple but powerful premise: With a healthy lifestyle and normally functioning nerves, joints, and spine, your body is better able to heal itself.

  • Chiropractic theory holds that spinal mechanics plays a primary role in the health of the whole body.

  • The primary treatment for spinal misalignment (subluxation) is a procedure known as vertebral adjustment, or more generally spinal manipulation.

  • An adjustment is a technique in which the chiropractor skillfully applies pressure to an area of the spine that is out of alignment, usually done manually.

  • The result is reduced pain and inflammation, and restored function to the injured area.

  • Treatment plans may also include ultrasound, electrical stimulation, controlled exercise, and nutritional counseling.


  • The scientific manipulation of the soft body tissues to return those tissues to their normal state

  • Consists of manual techniques that include applying fixed or movable pressure and holding and causing the body to move

  • Primarily, hands are used

  • Techniques include:

Swedish massage

Deep tissue massage

Sports massage

Neuromuscular massage

  • Massage has a definite psychological effect. Since massage animates the tactile sense, the body's primary sense, it brings people into the here and now and away from tension generated by constant preoccupation with problems.

  • Headaches, insomnia, digestive disorders including constipation and spastic colon, arthritis, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, sinusitis, and minor aches and pains are some of the problems that can respond to massage therapy.


Improves circulation

Increases oxygen capacity of blood 10-15% after massage

Improves posture and promotes more efficient movement

Speeds recovery from muscle fatigue that occurs after exercise

Maintains tissue elasticity

Increases metabolic rate (the utilization of absorbed material by the body’s cells)

Increases the body's secretions and excretions

Balances the nervous system by soothing or stimulating it, depending on which effect is needed by the individual at the time of the massage

Improves function of oil and sweat glands, helping skin become more supple

Aids in recovery of soft tissue sprains/strains

Many herbs can be harmful. Safety with any treatment is essential for overall health and well-being. The following information DOES NOT reflect endorsement of these herbs, but is for educational purposes only. SEEK CONSULTATION WITH YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER BEFORE CONSIDERING ANY NON-PRESCRIBED MEDICINE OR HERB.
Aloe Vera - The gel of the inner part of an aloe leaf is used to treat burns, skin rashes, and insect bites, as well as chafed nipples from breastfeeding, when applied to the affected area externally. The fresh gel was used by Cleopatra to keep her skin soft and young.
Basil - used to treat stomach cramps, vomiting, fevers, colds, flu, headaches, whooping cough, and menstrual pains. It is also used to reduce stomach acid.
Cayenne - also called capsicum, is very effective added to liniments for all sorts of arthritis and muscle aches. Internally it benefits the heart and circulation when taken alone or added to other remedies. It is also used to stimulate the action of other herbs. Capsicum is also used to normalize blood pressure. It will stop bleeding both externally and internally, making it excellent for use with ulcers.
Chamomile - Use the tea for nerves and menstrual cramps. The tea is also useful for babies and small children with colds and stomach troubles. Also used to calm the body for inducing sleep in insomniac conditions.

Chickweed - an excellent source of many B vitamins and various minerals. It is used to treat bronchitis, pleurisy, coughs, colds, and as a blood builder. Externally it is good for skin diseases, and the tea added to the bath is good for soothing skin irritations and rashes.
Cinnamon - This herb is a stimulant to other herbs and the body, enabling

Herbal remedies to work faster. It is also a blood purifier, may prevent infection, and

digestive aid. Do not ingest cinnamon oil.
Dandelion - benefits all functions of the liver. It clears obstructions (such as stones) and detoxifies poisons that gather in the liver, spleen, and gall bladder. It will also promote healthy circulation. The juice from a broken leaf stem can be applied to warts and allowed to dry; used for three days or so it will dry up the warts It is a rich source of potassium, and contains more vitamin A than carrots.
Dill - used to treat colic, gas, and indigestion.
Echinacea - also known as Purple Coneflower, is a natural antibiotic and immune system stimulator, helping to build resistance to colds, flu, and infections. It increases the production of white blood cells, and improves the lymph glands.
Eucalyptus oil - a powerful antiseptic, and is used to treat pyorrhea (gum disease), and is used on burns to prevent infections. The oil breathed in will help clear the sinuses, as will the steam from boiling the leaves. When mixed with water or vegetable oils, it makes a good insect repellant. A small drop on the tongue eases nausea.
Evening Primrose oil - stimulates to help with liver and spleen conditions. It lowers blood pressure, and eases the pain of angina by opening up the blood vessels. It has been found to help slow the production of cholesterol, and has been found to lower cholesterol levels.
Garlic - a powerful natural antibiotic. It can stimulate cell growth and activity. It reduces blood pressure in hypertensive conditions. A main advantage to using garlic for its antibiotic properties is that it does not destroy the body's natural flora. It is excellent for use in all colds and infections of the body. When ingesting the raw cloves, a sprig of parsley chewed immediately after will freshen the breath.
Ginger - used for strengthening and healing the respiratory system, as well as for fighting off colds and flu. It removes congestion, soothes sore throats, and relieves headaches and body aches. Combined with other herbs, it enhances their effectiveness. It is also very effective in combating motion sickness.
Gingko Biloba - used to treat memory loss and difficulties, and is used to treat head injuries. It is also used to treat tinnitus, circulatory problems, strengthening the cardiac system, impotence, asthma, allergies that affect breathing, and Alzheimer's disease, in its early stages. Its properties enable the opening of the smaller veins, helping to improve circulation to all organs and especially the heart.
Ginseng - stimulates the body to overcome all forms of illness, physical and mental. It is used to lower blood pressure, increase endurance, aid in relieving depression, and is a sexual stimulant.
Green tea - has recently come into prominence as an effective anti-oxidant. It has been shown to reduce the risk of many forms of cancer, and it has the ability to stabilize blood lipids, making it part of an overall cardiac care regimen. It aids in treating high cholesterol, hypertension, and stimulates immune functions. This herb eases mental fatigue, and may lower the risks for arteriosclerosis. It can also help to prevent plaque buildup on the teeth.
Horehound - is used in children's cough remedies, as it is a gentle but effective expectorant. It acts as a tonic for the respiratory system and stomach. In large doses it acts as a laxative.
Horseradish - Grind some of the fresh root, combine it with a carrier oil, and use it to massage away muscular aches, and help loosen chest congestion. It can be used to warm a cold body, and to clear up drippy sinuses.

Jojoba oil - from the seed has been used to promote hair growth and relieve skin problems for centuries. It is effective in treating dandruff, psoriasis, dry and chapped skin.
Jasmine tea - known for its calming affect, especially after dinner. Jasmine oil used in massage is soothing to the skin. It is used in aromatherapy to treat depression and nerve conditions, and as a massage oil for menstrual cramps.
Kava Kava - Used to treat insomnia and nervousness. Relieves stress after injury. Used as a tea for pains associated with nerve and skin diseases. Large doses can cause a buildup of toxic substances in the liver.
Lavender tea - made from the blossoms is used as an antidepressant. It is used in combination with other herbs for a remedy for depression and nervous tension and stress. It is also used as a headache remedy.
Lemon Balm - is used to treat children with fever, flu, and colds. In adults, it treats colds, headaches, depression, menstrual cramps, insomnia, and nervous stomachs. It has also been used to treat hyperthyroidism (Grave's disease), herpes simplex, and indigestion. The crushed leaves are applied to wounds and insect bites to aid in healing. The essential oil, also known as Melissa, is used in aromatherapy to ease depression.
Licorice Root - source of the female hormone estrogen. It is used for coughs and chest ailments. It is an important herb to use when recovering from an illness, as it supplies needed energy to the system. Used as a remedy for stomach and heart problems, indigestion, and most respiratory ailments. Helps to normalize and regulate hormone production. Should not be used by pregnant women as it can sometimes lead to high blood pressure with prolonged use.
Oregano - used to promote perspiration as a treatment for colds, flu, and fevers. It is also used in baths and inhalations, as well drinking the infusion, to clear lungs and bronchial passages. Internally and externally it can help alleviate dry itching skin. Pregnant women should not ingest large amounts of oregano.
Peppermint - cleans and strengthens the body. It acts as a sedative on the stomach and strengthens the bowels. It is also mild enough to give to children as needed for chills and colds. Used with bitter herbs to improve their taste.
Rose hips - are very nourishing to the skin, as well as containing vitamin C. It is used as a blood purifier, and for treatment of infections, colds, and flu.
St. Johns Wort -useful for bronchitis, internal bleeding, healing wounds, and for dirty, septic wounds. It is used to ease depression, headaches, hysteria, neuralgia, shingles, as well as symptoms that occur during menopause. An increased sunburn risk, especially to fair-skinned people taking this herb has been noted.
Thyme - It is used in cases of anemia, bronchial ailments, and intestinal disturbances. It is used as an antiseptic against tooth decay, and destroys fungal infections as in athlete's foot and skin parasites such as crabs and lice. It is good for colic, flatulence, and colds.
Witch Hazel - used externally for insect bites, burns, bleeding wounds, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins.
Yucca - used to treat joint pain caused by arthritis, and to reduce inflammation in the joints. Shampoo made from the root is used to treat dandruff and other scalp conditions.

Pure, concentrated plant extracts have been used for centuries and knowledge of their special properties has been collected throughout many ages. Use of aromatherapy is not recommended as a substitute for medical care.

Aromatherapy is the use of oils extracted from aromatic plants thought to enhance health and beauty.

Essential oils have been revered for their fragrance and their restorative effects on the body, mind, and spirit for thousands of years.
Essential oils can have subtle effects on the mind and emotions.
Essential oils are extracted from flowers; herbs; spices; woods and fibers, usually by distillation, expression and solvent extraction.

Often used in conjunction with massage-also used in the following mediums:

  • Baths

  • Compresses-placed on affected area

  • Inhalations-essential oils in steaming water

  • Vaporization-used as air-fresheners or in diffusers; oils evaporate easily

  • Perfumes-created by blending different essential oils

Thought to promote: rejuvenation, stress relief, calmness and emotional balance by “activating” neurotransmitters (serotonin, endorphins, etc)

The scent of essential oils is conveyed by the olfactory nerve to areas of the brain that can influence emotions and hormonal response.


Yoga: a Hindu discipline aimed at training the consciousness for a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility and uses a system of exercises practiced to promote control of the body and mind.
Effects include:

  • Increased efficiency of the heart and slows the respiratory rate, improves fitness, lowers blood pressure, promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and allays anxiety.

  • It also serves to improve coordination, posture, flexibility, range of motion, concentration, sleep, and digestion.

Has been used as supplementary therapy for conditions as diverse as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, migraine, and AIDS, and helps to combat addictions such as smoking.

It is not, in itself, a cure for any medical ailment.

A typical yoga session includes three disciplines: breathing exercises, body postures, and meditation.

Rooted in Hindu religious principles some 5,000 years old, derived from the Sanskrit word for "union," or “to unify” the term yoga refers to far more than exercise.
Through controlled breathing, prescribed postures, and meditation, yoga seeks to enhance the “life force” that resides in the body and achieve a state of balance and harmony between body and mind.
Some researchers speculate that, like other mind-body therapies, yoga works largely by relieving stress. Others suggest that it promotes the release of endorphins, the brain's natural pain killers.
The Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health has several studies underway to clarify the matter. (

Hypnosis or hypnotherapy: therapy based on artificially induced sleep-like state in an individual who is extremely responsive to suggestions by the hypnotist.

Hypnosis has been a part of healing from ancient times. The induction of trance states and the use of therapeutic suggestion were a central feature of the early Greek healing temples.

Modern hypnosis began in the 18th century with Franz Anton Mesmer, who used “magnetic healing” to treat disorders such as hysterical blindness, paralysis, headaches, and joint pains.
Freud abandoned use of hypnosis when troubled by sudden emergence of powerful emotions in his patients and his own difficulty with its use, but found it extremely effective in treating hysteria.
Used most frequently in pain management, blood sugar stabilization, hay fever and asthma, cure of warts and control of reactions to allergies such as poison ivy and certain foods.
Some techniques used to induce "hypnotic trance:"

  • Watching a moving object as it swings back and forth, with therapist suggesting in a monotonous, soothing voice that your eyes are getting so heavy you can't keep them open.

  • Concentrating on the therapist's voice as he gives you instructions.

  • Counting backward slowly from 30 to 0.

Some scientists speculate that it prompts the brain to release endorphins, natural mood-altering substances that can change the way we perceive pain and other physical symptoms.

Most researchers believe hypnosis acts through the unconscious, the part of the mind responsible for involuntary reactions ranging from blood pressure and heart rate to hunger.

Standard Precautions

  • Sometimes called “Universal Precautions”

  • Used to break the chain of infection

  • Pathogens spread by blood and body fluids

  • Hepatitis B (HBV)

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
OSHA passed regulations in 1991 requiring all health care facility employers to:

  • Determine which employees will have exposure to blood and body fluids;

  • Provide Hepatitis B vaccine free to employees with exposure risk (or signed refusal);

  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, gowns, lab coats, masks, and face shields;

  • Provide adequate hand washing facilities and supplies;

  • Ensure clean and safe work environment;

  • Follow decontamination protocol for contaminated surfaces;

Dispose of infectious wastes correctly;

  • Have no eating, drinking, smoking, handling contact lenses, applying lip balm, etc. in risk area;

  • Provide color-coded containers labeled for sharps and other infectious wastes;

  • Post signs in work areas where this is exposure risk;

  • Provide medical evaluation and follow-up for employees who have had an exposure incident;

  • Provide training about the regulations to all employees at no cost during working hours.

Standard precautions rules

developed by the CDC and FDA
1. All body fluids should be considered potentially infectious.
2. All patients should be considered potential sources of infection.
3. Wash hands before and after any patient.
4. If any surface comes in contact with blood or body fluids, wash immediately and thoroughly.
5. Wash hands after removal of gloves.
6. Wear gloves whenever in contact with blood or body fluids is possible.
7. Change gloves after contact with each patient
8. Gloves should not be reused.
9. Gowns should be worn during any procedure with risk of splashing blood or body fluids.
10. Masks and protective

eyewear are to be worn

during procedures that

may produce blood or

other body fluids.
11. Extreme care should be taken while handling sharp objects. (Do not bend, break, or recap needles. Dispose of them in puncture-resistant containers.)
12. Spills or splashes of

blood or body fluids

should be wiped up

immediately. Wear gloves,

and use a disinfectant solution.
13. Mouthpieces or resuscitation devices should be used to avoid the need for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
14. Know the requirements for disposal of waste materials, and dispose of wastes in the proper container.

  1. Immediately report any cut, injury, needle stick, or splashing of blood or body fluids.

Infection Control Review
1. Why does the body temperature increase when a person has an infection?

2. Should a health care worker who refuses the vaccine for Hepatitis B because of religious reasons be allowed to work as a hospital lab technician?

3. Efforts are made to get patients home from hospitals as soon as possible. What type of infection would be reduced by early discharge?

4. Give four examples of portals of entry, and an example of an infection that could result?

5. Give an example of a disease caused by each of the following organisms:
a. Virus

b. Bacteria __________

c. Fungi

d. Protozoa

e. Rickettsiae
6. Sometimes severe infections are treated by placing a person in a hyperbaric chamber. What type of infection would that be?

7. Fill in the blank with the most appropriate classification of infection or disease.

a. Hypothermia ___________

b. Pneumocystis carnii

c. One transmitted by a

health care worker d. Kaposi’s sarcoma e. Diabetes

f. Sun poisoning

g. Pseudomonas

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