The Medicine of the Future: The Growth of Alternative Medicine in Society Alternative medicine is a very general term whose definition can be quite controversial. It includes many holistic techniques for preventing and treating illnesses. Acupuncture and many other therapies have long been a part of Asian cultures and have recently integrated into the Western culture. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) comprises a wide variety of healing philosophies, approaches, and therapies. Alternative medicine should be considered a real compliment to conventional medicine due to its standard of practice, treatment, and costs.