Heather McLeod

Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine

TM/CAM Therapies and Therapeutic Techniques

The WHO distinguishes between TM/CAM therapies and the therapeutic techniques that are used by those therapies. The table below shows four categories of therapeutic techniques, namely herbal medicines, acupuncture/ acupressure, manual therapies and spiritual therapies, for a number of therapies.

Commonly used TM/CAM Therapies and Therapeutic Techniques
(Source: WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2002-2005)

Training Standards for TM/CAM Practitioners

In 2010 the WHO began releasing a series of documents on benchmarks for training in TM and CAM therapies.

 “In 2003, a WHO resolution (WHA56.31) on traditional medicine urged Member States, where appropriate, to formulate and implement national policies and regulations on traditional and complementary and alternative medicine to support their proper use. In 2009, resolution WHA62.13 further urged Member States to consider, within their national context, the inclusion of traditional medicine in their national health systems and establishing systems for the qualification, accreditation or licensing of practitioners of traditional medicine."

“[These documents are] part of the implementation of the WHO resolutions. The benchmarks for training describe models of training for trainees with different backgrounds, and include training of practitioners and training for dispensers and distributors of. The benchmarks reflect what the community of practitioners in each practice regards to be reasonable practice when training professionals to practice, taking into consideration that consumer protection and patient safety are core to professional practice.

[These documents are] intended to:

  • Support countries in establishing systems for the qualification, accreditation or licensing of practitioners of traditional medicine;
  • Support countries in establishing systems for the qualification, accreditation or licensing of practitioners of traditional medicine;
  • Facilitate better communication between providers of conventional and traditional care, as well as other health professionals, medical students and relevant researchers, through appropriate training programmes; and
  • Support integration of traditional medicine into the national health system.”
    • There are documents for Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Nuad Thai (Thai traditional massage), Osteopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tuina (a manual technique in TCM) and Unani Medicine.

      The documents provide a very useful and peer-reviewed summary of each therapy and have extensive reference lists of core material. They are an excellent introction to each of the named therapies.

      In addition, see the WHO web-site on traditional medicine teaching resources