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Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Information for students researching CAM topics

Mind-Body Interventions


Mind and body interventions focus on the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior, with the intent to use the mind to affect physical functioning and promote health.

  • Meditation techniques include specific postures, focused attention, or an open attitude toward distractions. People use meditation to increase calmness and relaxation, improve psychological balance, cope with illness, or enhance well-being.
  • Yoga combines physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation. People use yoga as a general health regimen, and also for a variety of health conditions.
  • Acupuncture involves the stimulation of specific points on the body using a variety of techniques, such as penetrating the skin with needles that are then manipulated by hand or by electrical stimulation. It is one of the key components of traditional Chinese medicine, and is among the oldest healing practices in the world.

Other examples of mind and body practices include deep-breathing exercises, guided imagery, hypnotherapy, progressive relaxation, qi gong, and tai chi.

Historical note: The concept that the mind is important in the treatment of illness is integral to the healing approaches of traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, dating back more than 2,000 years. Hippocrates also noted the moral and spiritual aspects of healing and believed that treatment could occur only with consideration of attitude, environmental influences, and natural remedies.

Current use: Several mind and body approaches ranked among the top 10 CAM practices reported by adults in the 2007 NHIS. The survey found that 12.7 percent of adults had used deep-breathing exercises, 9.4 percent had practiced meditation, and 6.1 percent had practiced yoga.  (NCCAM)

Seattle Yoga Event: Yogathon 2014 (cc by 2.0) by


Web Resourses

UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center - Free guided meditations.  - Covers yoga poses, health & yoga, yoga wisdom, and yoga practice videos.

Medline Plus: Acupuncture - Authoritative and up-to-date information on acupuncture therapy.

NCCIH What is Mindfulness? Q and A with Dr. Amishi Jha

NCCIH What Happens During an Acupuncture Session

NCCIH National #YogaMonth Livestream Recording: The Science and Practice of Yoga