What is the difference between complementary and conventional medicine?

Question: What is the difference between complementary and conventional medicine?

Answer: Hi and thanks for your question. Complementary therapies are used alongside conventional medicines or treatments. These include: 1. Alternative health approaches such as traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, and naturopathy. 2. Mind and body practices like acupuncture, massage therapy, and tai chi. 3. Natural products like herbs, dietary supplements, and probiotics.

People often use complementary practices along with care from their medical doctor to deal with chronic health problems, treat symptoms, or stay healthy.

In the U.S., the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health was formed within the National Institutes of Health to test the safety and effectiveness of these treatments. The center has guidelines to help you choose safe treatments that are right for you.

In other countries, complementary medicine is used regularly and may also be officially recognized and subsidized by governments.

One benefit is that many people who practice complementary medicine take a “whole person,” or holistic, approach to treatment.

In some cases, this type of medicine works as well as standard medicine. Also, these treatments may cost less and have fewer side effects than standard treatment.

Talk with your doctor about any complementary health practice that you would like to try or are already using. Your doctor can help you manage your health better if he or she has the whole picture about your health.

Please take advantage of the expertise of complementary medicine practitioners – they can sometimes prove to be invaluable – especially when conventional medical intervention provides unsatisfactory results.

Dr. D. Zluf
Dr. D. Zluf

2 Comments on “What is the difference between complementary and conventional medicine?

  1. Many complementary treatments work but are not recommended by western doctors. I am surprised for example that acupuncture is not a standard treatment for many problems such as headaches, tension headaches, dental pain and migraines. It has worked wonders for me on many occasions.

  2. Complementary medicine is used along with standard medical treatment but is not considered by itself to be standard treatment. One example is using acupuncture to help lessen some side effects of cancer treatment.

    Conventional medicine is a system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation or surgery. Also called allopathic medicine, biomedicine, mainstream medicine, orthodox medicine and Western medicine.

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