Complementary therapies aim to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms of disease. Complementary therapy is known by different terms including alternative therapy, alternative medicine, holistic therapy and traditional medicine. Therapies include acupuncture, Alexander technique, aromatherapy, chiropractic, herbal medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, osteopathy, reiki and yoga. Complementary therapy is known by many different terms, including alternative therapy, alternative medicine, holistic therapy and traditional medicine.
A wide range of treatments exists under the umbrella term of ‘complementary therapy’. Each treatment has its own unique theory and practice, which makes it difficult to offer a blanket definition. Perhaps a simple definition can be reached by comparing the philosophy of complementary therapies with that of modern (conventional) medicine.
Historically, modern medicine evolved out of an assumption that the mind and body are separate. Disease and illness were viewed as mechanical breakdowns and, generally, it was these breakdowns and the symptoms they caused that were treated. Complementary therapies aim to treat the entire person, not just the symptoms. Complementary therapies and conventional medicine
Today, the gap between conventional medicine and complementary therapies is blurring. Many complementary therapies are as based on anatomy and physiology as modern medicine, while modern medicine has widened its scope to include a more holistic approach to healthcare and has adopted therapies that originated in complementary medicine.
You don’t always have to choose between conventional medicine and your preferred complementary therapy. They can often work well alongside each other. However, it is important to tell your doctor and your complementary therapist of all drugs, treatments and remedies you take. Herbs and homeopathic remedies can sometimes interact with prescription drugs and cause side effects.
Never stop taking prescribed medications, or change the dose, without the knowledge and approval of your doctor.
Use of complementary therapies Complementary therapies are often based on traditional knowledge, which is why there is sometimes less scientific evidence available about their safety and effectiveness.
However, the increasing use of complementary therapies has begun to trigger scientific research and some complementary therapies now have some scientific evidence about their safety and effectiveness, as well as a history of traditional use. Sometimes, they are less invasive and more cost-effective than conventional medical treatments. Nonetheless, it’s still important to ask about both potential benefits and potential harms of any therapy.
Natural and complementary medicines can be bought without prescription; however, they may still have side effects or interact with other drugs, or they may not be the most effective treatment for you.
It’s important to consider seeking advice from a qualified professional before using a complementary medicine, and to let your health professionals know about all medicines – herbal and conventional – that you are taking.