Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 73, Issue 4, pp 367–381 | Cite as

A Primer of Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Its Relevance in the Treatment of Mental Health Problems

  • Ravinder Mamtani
  • Andrea Cimino


The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is widespread. Those with psychiatric disorders are more likely to use CAM than those with other diseases. There are both benefits and limitations to CAM. Many controlled studies have yielded promising results in the areas of chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. There is sufficient evidence, for example, to support the use of a) acupuncture for addiction problems and chronic musculoskeletal pain, b) hypnosis for cancer pain and nausea, c) massage therapy for anxiety, and the use of d) mind–body techniques such as meditation, relaxation, and biofeedback for pain, insomnia, and anxiety. Large doses of vitamins, herbal supplements, and their interaction with conventional medications are areas of concern. Physicians must become informed practitioners so that they can provide appropriate and meaningful advice to patients concerning benefits and limitations of CAM.

complementary alternative mental psychiatric integrative 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    News: Complementary medicine is booming worldwide. BMJ 313:131-132, 1996.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Integrated Healthcare. A way forward for the next five years-A discussion document. Foundation for Integrated Medicine, on behalf of the Steering Committee for The Prince of Wales's Initiative on Integrated Medicine, 1997.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Zollman C, Vickers A: Users and practitioners of complementary medicine. BMJ 399:836-38, 1999.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Eisenberg DM, Kessler RC, Foster C, Norlock FE, Calkins DR, Delbanco T: Unconventional medicine in the United States. New England Journal of Medicine 328:246-252, 1993.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ernst E, Cassileth BR: The prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine use by cancer patients. Cancer 83:777-782, 1998.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Kapchuk TJ, Edwards RA, Eisenberg DM, Complementary medicine: Efficacy beyond the placebo effect. In: Ernst E. ed., Complementary Medicine, an objective appraisal London, Buuterworth-Heinemann, pp. 42-70, 1996.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    NIH Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture. JAMA 280(17):1518-1524, 1998.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mamtani R: Acupuncture for chronic pain management in the elderly. Long-Term Care Forum 5(4):9-12, 1995.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    The Evidence Base of Complementary Medicine, 2nd edn., London, The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, NHS Trust, 1999.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Vickers AJ, Cassileth BR: Unconventional therapies for cancer and cancer related symptoms. The Lancet Oncology 2:226-232, 2001.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ernst E: A primer of complementary and alternative medicine commonly used by cancer patients. Medical Journal of Australia 174:88-92, 2001.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Owen DK, Lewith G, Stephens CR: Can doctors respond to patients' increasing interest in compementary and alternative medicine? BMJ 322:154-157, 2001.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    House of Lords. Select Committee on Science and Technology Sixth Report. Complementary and alternative medicine. London: Stationery Office, 2000.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Downer SM, Cody MM, McCluskey P, Wilson PD, Arnott SJ, Lister TA, Slevin ML: Pursuit and practice of complementary therapies by cancer patients receiving conventional treatments. British Medical Journal 309:86-89, 1994.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Prince Charles. Personal Statement. BMJ 322:1, 2001.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Expanding horizons of healthcare. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Five-year Strategic Plan 2001-2005.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    The integrative medicine consult. Best practice of medicine 3(6):47, 2001.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    American Academy of Pediatrics. Committee on Children with Disabilities. Counseling families who choose complementary and alternative medicine for their child with chronic illness and disbility. Pediatrics 107(3):598-601, 2001.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Zollman C, Vickers A: What is complementary medicine? BMJ 319:693-696, 1999.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Alternative Medicine. Expanding Medical Horizons. A Report to the NIH on Altrenaative Medical Systems and Practices in the US, 1992.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Pomernaz B: Acupuncture analegesia. In: Stux G, Pomeranz B, eds., Acupuncture Textbook and Atlas, New York, Springer, 1987.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Baldry PE: The myofascial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia. In: Baldry PE, ed., Acupuncture, Trigger Points and Musculoskeletal Pain, Edinburgh, Churchil Livingstone, 1993.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Pearl D, Schillinger E: Acupuncture: Its use in medicine. Western Journal of Medicine 171:176-180, 1999.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Linde K, Clausius N, Ramirez G, Melchart D, Eitel F, Hedges L, Jonas W: Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials. Lancet 350:834-843, 1997.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Reilly D: The puzzle of homeopathy. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 7(Supp 1): s103-s109, 2001.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Mar C, Bent S: An evidence based review of the 10 most commonly used herbs. Western Journal of Medicine 171:168-171, 1999.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Vickers A, Zollman C: Unconventional approaches to nutritional medicine. Western Journal of Medicine 175:417-420, 2001.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Egger J, Stolla A, McEwan LM: Controlled trial of hypersensitisation in children with food induced hyperkinetic syndrome. Lancet 339(8802):1150-1153, 1992.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Mansfield LE, Vaughn TR, Waller SF: Food allergy and adult migraine: Double blind and mediator confirmation of an allergic etiology. Annals Allergy 55:126-129, 1985.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Egger J, Carter CM, Wilson J, Turner MW, Soothill JF: Is migraine a food allergy?: A double blind controlled of oligoantigenic diet treatment. Lancet 2:865-869, 1983.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Jacobs GD: Clinical applications of the relaxation response and mind body interventions. Clinical applications of the relaxation response and mind-body interventions. The Journal of Alternative Therapies and Complementary Medicine 7(Suppl 1): S93-S101, 2001.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Integration of Behavioral and Relaxation Approaches into the Treatment of Chronic Pain and Insomnia. NIH Technology Assessment Conference Statement, October 16-18, 1995.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Vickers A, Zollman C: Hypnosis and relaxation therapies. BMJ 319:1346-1348, 1999.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Vickers A, Zollman C: Massage therapies. BMJ 319:1254-1257, 1999.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Vickers A, Zollman C: The manipulative therapies: Osteopathy and chiropractic. BMJ 319:1176-1180, 1999.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Krastins M, Ristinen E, Cimino J, Mamtani R: Use of Alternative therapies by a low income population. Acupuncture & Electro-therapeutics Res., International Journal 23:135-142, 1998.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ravinder Mamtani
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andrea Cimino
    • 3
  1. 1.New York Medical CollegeNew York
  2. 2.Department of MedicineWestchester Medical CenterValhalla
  3. 3.Community and Preventive MedicineNew York Medical CollegeValhalla

Personalised recommendations