There are many terms used to describe health care approaches that are outside the realm of conventional 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, yoga, and so on.
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.
Dietary supplements are products taken orally that contain a “dietary ingredient” intended to supplement the diet. These 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 increasingly 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.
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. A chapter devoted to glycoproteins in Harper’s Biochemistry states that there is evidence that some of these eight plant-based sugars may be beneficial when added to a person’s diet. Ambrotose is an advanced glyconutritional technology that Mannatech places in many of its products, for example.
Some plant-based polysaccharides are known to support to the immune system and certain sugars may be used by the body to create glycoforms. Glycoforms are structures present on the surface of nearly all our cells which allow one cell to communicate with other cells. In fact, sugars are attached to most proteins and many of the fat molecules in the body.
These molecules assist cells in identifying each other and communicating messages such as “I’m a tissue cell.” This cellular communication supports gland and organ function, is a natural immune defense, and works to increase optimal health overall.