Traditional Chinese Medicine

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Complementary & Integrative Therapies

Complementary Versus Alternative

Many people use health care approaches developed outside of mainstream Western, or conventional, medicine. When describing these approaches, people often use “alternative” and “complementary” interchangeably, but the two terms refer to different concepts:

  • If a non-mainstream practice is used together with conventional medicine, it’s considered “complementary.”
  • If a non-mainstream practice is used in place of conventional medicine, it’s considered “alternative.”

True alternative medicine is uncommon. Most people who use non-mainstream approaches use them along with conventional treatments.

From: National Center of Complementary & Integrative Health. (2015). Complementary, alternative or integrative health: what's in a name? Retrieved November 25, 2015, from

The following websites provide information on many complementary and integrative therapies such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, biofeedback, guided imagery, music therapy and massage therapy.  They outline the activities involved in the therapies, evidence to support them, questions to ask of the therapies such as what are the possible side effects of this therapy and what are the risks of this therapy.

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