About Complementary Medicine

5 things you should know about alternative medical practices

Your head is killing you again! You just can’t take the pain any longer. You’ve tried so many therapies and medicines that perhaps you feel there is nothing left to try. Nevertheless, you heard about complementary medicine. What is complementary medicine?

Definition

Complementary medicine is not just a pill or other medical treatment, but can include a variety of elements such as unconventional medical practices as well as various medications. According to Mayo Clinic, alternative medicine is basically any medical approach or treatment that is not used in everyday Western medicine, and complementary or integrative medicine is alternative medicine used in conjunction with traditional Western treatments or therapies.

Examples

Complementary medicine often includes alternative treatments such as homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic medicine and naturopathy, which includes acupuncture, yoga, hypnosis, massage and aromatherapy.

According to Mayo Clinic, homeopathic medicine helps stimulate a self-healing process in the body when a physician prescribes very small doses of medications or herbs which, if given in larger doses, would cause a healthy patient to experience the symptoms of the disease that the physician is treating. Osteopathy and chiropractic medicine, according to Mayo Clinic, focus on treating illness through massage and physical manipulation of the bones, joints and muscles.

Use

Complementary medicine has been used to treat individuals who have a variety of issues that include digestive problems, back pain and arthritis. Individuals with chronic pain often seek out complementary alternative treatments to help manage symptoms. Cancer patients, those suffering from depression or other serious, ongoing illnesses may explore complementary medical treatments when traditional medicine on its own has not succeeded in curing them or alleviating their symptoms.

Popularity

According to Mayo Clinic, complementary and alternative medicines have recently gained popularity, with 40 percent of adults using these treatments. Mayo Clinic reports that despite complementary and alternative medicine's popularity among U.S. adults, doctors trained in Western medicine often still hesitate to prescribe complementary treatments. The reasons for this hesitation include a lack of a solid body of scientific research supporting many alternative treatments and a lack of training in alternative medicine for most Western doctors. Research is expensive, but the National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), the main agency in the United States, provides monetary assistance to make research possible. Through this agency and others, today’s complementary and alternative medicine might be part of tomorrow’s everyday practice.

Talk to your doctor

Complementary and alternative medical approaches might not be right for everyone. Talk to your doctor about complementary therapies that can be used to enhance your current treatments. Discussing your options with your doctor can help you avoid potentially harmful treatments and help you decide on treatments that are most likely to improve your health.

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