Complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) is known by a variety of terms, such as complementary, holistic, integrative, unorthodox, and natural medicine. Some types of alternative medicine include acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic, folk medicine, homeopathy, and herbal medicine. A treatment is called “alternative” when it is used instead of conventional treatment. A “conventional” treatment is one that is widely accepted and practiced by the mainstream medical community. If alternative treatments are used in addition to conventional treatments, they are referred to as “complementary therapies.”

There is a need to integrate these treatments into conventional medical practice and to examine the prevalence of herbal use across ethnic, age, economic, and other strata as studied by the regular medical hierarchy. These therapies are often implicated in patients’ responses to treatment of their chief complaints as well as the progression of their underlying diseases. Hence, herbal therapies affect the patient’s response to conventional patent medicines, surgery, anesthesia, and healing. In addition, patients receiving acute care will have differing responses, depending on their underlying cardiovascular, renal, hepatic, and immune system pathology, along with their conventional and alternative drug therapies. Any effort on the part of pharmacists to raise these issues with treating physicians must be combined with a presentation of the prevalence of CAM use in their patients. canadian antibiotics

This presents a challenge to community and institutional pharmacists as they strive to ensure rational drug therapy. Pharmacists must obtain and provide information relating to all therapeutic agents the patients are receiving in the following situations:

  • when the patient begins a new conventional therapy
  • when the patient presents for emergent or urgent care
  • when the patient presents for surgery and other invasive procedures
  • when the patient is considering a new CAM therapy