What is complementary medicine?

The word “complementary” means “in addition to.” Complementary medicine is a term used for a wide variety of health care practices that may be used along with standard medical treatment.

What is considered standard treatment in one culture may not be standard in another. For example:

  • Acupuncture is standard in China but not in the United States.
  • Hypnosis is a standard part of psychiatry, but it may not be standard if used to treat cancer.

Examples of complementary medicine include:

  • Alternative health approaches such as traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, and naturopathy.
  • Mind and body practices like acupuncture, massage therapy, and tai chi.
  • Natural products like herbs, dietary supplements, and probiotics.