National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
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Background Information


On this page:

What is CAM on PubMed®?

CAM on PubMed® contains citations to journal articles related to complementary health approaches, also called complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). It was developed jointly by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) to help people search easily for journal articles related to a variety of complementary health therapies, approaches, and systems—from acupuncture, to herbs, to traditional Oriental medicine.

CAM on PubMed® is a subset (a part) of all citations found on the NLM's PubMed and offers all of the features and benefits of PubMed.


What is PubMed?

PubMed is a database of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) that provides an easy way to access over 11 million journal citations in the MEDLINE database and additional life science journals. NLM is the world's largest library of the health sciences, located at the National Institutes of Health. PubMed is free and searchable through the Internet. In addition, PubMed has a “LinkOut” feature that links a citation to outside sources for the full text of the article (some publishers may require a subscription or a fee); over 2,700 journals are linked. Another feature of PubMed, “Related Articles,” lets you obtain a set of citations that are closely related to the selected article. NLM regularly adds new citations to PubMed.


What is complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)?

NCCIH defines complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as those health care practices not currently considered an integral part of conventional medicine. It covers a broad range of healing therapies, approaches, and systems. Some examples of CAM include acupuncture, herbs, homeopathy, chiropractic, hypnosis, and traditional Oriental medicine.

A therapy is called complementary when it is used in addition to conventional treatments. It is often called alternative when it is used instead of conventional treatment. Most often, people who use CAM are seeking ways to improve their health and well-being and to relieve symptoms and side effects of conventional treatment.


Who will use this database?

CAM on PubMed® will be used by researchers, complementary health practitioners, health care providers, students, people with illnesses, their family and friends, advocacy organizations, and many others as a resource to find citations related to complementary health approaches. Please note that it is not the intention of the NLM or NCCIH to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide people with access to sources of information.


How many citations are included within CAM on PubMed®?

Currently, there are over 462,000 citations in the CAM subset of PubMed (from 1966 forward). As research in complementary health approaches grows and more articles are published, we expect the number of citations to increase.


How do I access CAM on PubMed®?

You can access CAM on PubMed® from any computer with Internet access. You do not need to register.

When searching from the NCCIH Web site, your searches will be automatically limited to CAM-related citations. If you search directly from PubMed, you need to limit the search to the CAM subset. First, click on the “Limit” function. Next, select “Complementary Medicine” on the Subsets pull down menu.


Where can I find help using CAM on PubMed®?

To find help using CAM on PubMed®, review the information under PubMed's Help and FAQ sections. This information is accessible from the sidebar while you are in PubMed. You may also e-mail NLM's customer service (


How can I learn more about the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)?

NCCIH Clearinghouse

Get answers to your questions about complementary and integrative health or NCCIH.

Toll-free: 1-888-644-6226
TTY (for deaf or hard-of-hearing callers): 1-866-464-3615

Web site:
Address: NCCIH Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 7923, Gaithersburg, MD 20898-7923

Fax: 1-866-464-3616


How can I learn more about the National Library of Medicine (NLM)?

The Library has an extensive Web site at that provides a great variety of information for the general public and for health professionals. The site requires no registration and users are assured of complete privacy.

This page last modified September 24, 2017