Terms seen on the Internet for Complementary Medicine are, Alternative Medicine and Integrative Medicine. While these all refer to a type of medicine, how many of us actually know what they mean? We do know they apply to medicine practiced outside mainstream practice, but what do they actually cover in terms of health care?

Complementary Health

Complementary Health

The use of Complementary Health care means a patient is using ‘an Alternative Medicine’ together with mainstream medicine. There are few who choose to use strictly an Alternative Medicine approach to their healthcare. The two overlap in quite a few areas like guided imagery and massages. These two treatments at one time were considered strictly Alternative and now many clinics and hospitals use them for pain management. There are other examples of the overlap between Complementary Health and mainstream medical care when cancer patients are given acupuncture and meditation to manage their cancer treatment side effects.

The desire to use natural products has grown increasingly more popular in the past decade. This perhaps sets the gap between Complementary Health and mainstream medicine the furthest apart. A survey done by the National Interview Survey Institute (NHIS) showed 17.7 percent of Americans use nonvitamin/nonmineral natural products, and have become the most popular complementary health approach for both adults and children. One of the most popular natural product being used today is, fish oil/omega.

The practices or treatments for Complementary Health are:

  • Acupuncture- this involves stimulating specific parts of the body with needles through the skin.
  • Massage Therapy- is many different methods in which practitioners manipulate the soft tissue of the body.
  • Movement Therapies- the use of Eastern and Western movement based approaches; Feldendrais method, Pilates, Rolfing Structural Integration, Alexander technique and Trager psychological integration.
  • Meditation- these include; mindfulness meditation and transcendental meditation to help a person focus.
  • Spinal manipulation- practiced by health care professionals; chiropractors, osteopathic physicians and others to manipulate the spine using their hands. There is also the use of small device to apply a controlled force to the joints or spine.
  • Ta Chi- the use of traditional Chinese medicine with certain movements and postures.
  • Yoga- combines physical movements with breathing and meditation.

Mind and body practices along with the natural products are some of the most used Complementary Health techniques used by adults today.