There are important differences between complementary medicine and alternative medicine even though the terms are sometimes referred to in an interchangeable way.
Normally, complementary medicines are techniques and therapies which are designed to be used alongside your conventional medicine (the sort of remedy or direction you’ll get from your doctor).
Examples of complementary medicines are:
- Alexander technique
- Applied kinesiology
- Anthroposophic medicine
- Autogenic training
- Cranial osteopathy
- Environmental medicine
- Herbal medicine
- Nutritional therapy
- Relaxation and visualisation
- Therapeutic touch
Alternative medicines can sometimes be promoted as a replacement to conventional medicine. This is controversial as family, friends and medical professionals will rightly worry over the health of anyone who elects to stop conventional, tested and monitored healthcare in favour of a less well regulated alternative. However, there are documented cases of patients recovering and recovering better than expected while receiving only alternative medicines.
Cathy Wong, author of the respected The Inside-out Diet * (USA*), notes that it tends only to be health researchers who prefer strongly cast definitions when describing the difference between complementary medicine and alternative medicine. Reseachers use the acronym CAM (Complementary & Alternative Medicine).
Cathy points out that many alternative healthcare practitioners do not ask that the patient stop receiving traditional medical treatment and instead seek to have a relationship with the conventional doctor and have the patient’s health as a shared goal.
It is often advisable to ask yourself some basic questions before considering alternative medicine and seeking a second opinion from a non-medical friend. Questions to ask yourself include:
- Am I avoiding a diagnosis?
- Is it safe for me?
- Is there reason to believe this alternative will be effective for me?
In Pure Spirit
Have you benefited from either complementary or alternative medicines? We’d love to hear about your experiences.
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