Skip to content

Types of Complementary Medicine

Font Size

Topic Overview

Though people often use the terms complementary medicine and alternative medicine interchangeably, there is a difference. A better understanding of these terms, along with the term integrative medicine, will help you to become more informed about complementary and alternative medicine.

  • Complementary medicine is a nonstandard treatment or medicine that you use together with conventional treatment or medicine. For example, acupuncture, when used to treat nausea and vomiting that accompany chemotherapy or postsurgery pain, is a complementary therapy.
  • Alternative medicine is a nonstandard treatment or medicine that you use instead of conventional medicine. If you use kava in place of prescription medicines such as benzodiazepines or tricyclic antidepressants to treat anxiety or depression, the kava is considered alternative medicine.
  • Integrative medicine is, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a combination of standard medical therapies and complementary or alternative therapies about which there is scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness. As practitioners of conventional Western medicine pay more and closer attention to the benefits of many complementary and alternative therapies and determine how to use or recommend them, the mainstream health care system becomes more integrative.
1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 11, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Types of Complementary Medicine Topics

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
psoriasis
What it looks like.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
chest x-ray
7 early symptoms.
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
Breast Cancer Overview
Symptoms and treatments.
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.