Alternative, soft, holistic, complementary, natural medicinejust as many words to describe unconventional care practices that are growing in popularity all around the world. But what are they, and what are the complementary treatments? 

Complementary medicine encompasses many health practices that are not part of conventional medicine and whose integration into the effective health system is not complete. These soft medicines do not use drugs or chemicals in their care practices. This includes Osteopathy, Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Hypnosis, Kinesiology, Naturopathy, Herbal Medicine, Aromatherapy, Homeopathy, and many more. They often come in addition to conventional care to optimize the effects of alternative medicine. 

What is complementary medicine

The term complementary and alternative medicine include healing approaches and therapies that have historically not been included in traditional conventional Western medicine. 

We can define the complementary medicine as, the type of medicine which has a lot of treatment advancements categorized outside the field of traditional medicine.

A survey by the National Health Interview (2012) indicates that commonly used complementary and alternative medicine therapies include: 

  • Deep breathing exercises (11%)
  • Yoga, tai chi and qi gong (10%)
  • Manipulative therapy (8%)
  • Meditation (8%)
  • Yoga (6.1%)

In 2014, the WHO (World Health Organization) launched a strategic plan until 2023, with the aim, in particular, to ensure the proper development of complementary medicines. It proposes measures to adopt to ensure the integration of this type of care into the health system.  

What are the benefits of complementary medicine

Complementary medicine comes with a healthy lifestyle. They offer long-lasting benefits for your health. These medicines are the holistic approach to the treatment. Some people feel more in control and might get spiritual, physical, and mental gains. 

Pain Management: Most of the people use complementary medicine for pain management when allopathic medicines fail to work. These medicines offer treatment or therapy options to the individuals who don’t go to pain management clinics under their health insurance plans.

Little to No Side Effects: One of the best benefits of complementary medicines is that they have no or fewer side effects in most cases. On the other hand, conventional medicine has common and sometimes adverse side effects..

Cost-effective:  Although some alternative therapies are more expensive, natural and herbal remedies can cost less than conventional treatments and medications.

Mental Health: Complimentary medicine focuses on healing the mind, body, and spirit, and can be beneficial for your overall health and well-being. The treatment can help you to reduce anxiety, relieve signs of depression, and release deeply suppressed emotions. 

What is complementary medicine used for?

Complementary medicines are used with conventional medical treatment. These medicines can help people to relieve pain and improve their quality of life. The complementary medicines may help them to cope with the side effects caused by the treatment of chronic diseases. In addition, they are also used to relieve anxiety and improve your overall health.

What Are Commentary Treatments?

Whether it is migraine, exhaustion, or allergies when classical medicine shows its limits, complementary medicine often comes into play. Here the most common treatments are presented, and their usefulness is illustrated. 

Complementary medicine therapies are becoming increasingly popular as integrative methods of classical medicine. They share a holistic view of the individual. Through the most diverse methods, they stimulate the self-healing power of patients to restore the balance between body, mind, and soul. Complementary medicine has a vast field of applications, from which acute pathologies such as bone fractures or appendicitis are excluded.

Naturopathy: Naturopaths focus on the therapeutic power of nature. Care with medicinal plants (phytotherapy) is, therefore, one of the most important remedies. The objective is to stimulate the healing power of the body and treat the underlying cause of disease.  Detoxifying practices are used to purify the body. Hydrotherapy is also very widespread: baths (of steam) or compresses stimulate the metabolism and the cardio-circulatory system.

Craniosacral Therapy: Craniosacral therapists perform a gentle massage on the cranial bones and on the spine to harmonize the impulses (movements) of the cerebrospinal fluid. This method, which serves to relieve muscle tension, stabilizes the cardio-circulatory system and strengthens the immune system. It has proven to be effective not only in newborns (for example, for the colic they suffer at three months) but also in adults to relieve pain, stress, and exhaustion.

Osteopathy: Disorders arise when the body is limited in movements: this is the principle on which osteopathy is based. The purpose of this manual therapy is to activate the self-healing power through mobilization of the joints, as well as organs such as the heart, liver, or kidneys and the connective tissue. The field of application of osteopathy ranges from migraine to tinnitus through allergies.

Kinesiology: Kinesiology is based on the principal to detect and correct the imbalance that may relate to nutrition, stress, and minor injuries. Patients learn to relax and concentrate better also through the exercises. Kinesiology is an effective remedy for problems with posture, burnout, and learning disabilities.

REIKI: Reiki is a ‘hands-on’ healing treatment. The Reiki healing energy disperses blocks and negativity, and Reiki provides a safe haven – a place where calm and peacefulness can once again be felt. Reiki is a holistic treatment that complements other medical treatments. 

Potential benefits of Reiki include:   

  • Reduction of stress
  • Promoting the body’s self-healing abilities
  • Removing energy blockages
  • Helping with recovery after surgery and injury
  • Balancing of emotions

Aromatherapy Massage: This type of massage involves the use of essential oils that are extracted from plants, flowers, trees, fruit, bark, grasses, and seeds.  These oils are usually captured by steam distillation, a process that can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia.  An Aromatherapy Massage helps to improve health and emotional wellbeing, as well, restores balance to the body.   

Potential benefits of aromatherapy massage include:  

  • Improved blood and lymph circulation
  • Increased energy levels
  • Stimulated immune system
  • Feelings of relaxation
  • Helping with digestive disorders
  • Assisting with skin problems
  • Helping combat insomnia

Acupuncture: Acupuncture is used as an alternative treatment to traditional medicine for a long list of disorders and illnesses from headaches to cancer. According to recent national health studies, more than eight million Americans have used acupuncture to relieve pain and other illness symptoms. 

The applications for acupuncture are endless. It’s been shown to provide help with joint and muscle problems like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and carpal tunnel syndrome. It provides pain relief for migraines, menstrual cramps, low back pain, and dental pain. For a majority of illnesses like stroke, drug addiction, infertility, cancer, and HIV, acupuncture helps to relieve pain caused by symptoms and treatments and promotes emotional well-being for patients.

Why Do People Use Complementary And Alternate Medicine


Most of the people use complementary and alternative medicine to control the symptoms/side effects of some diseases and relieve pain. These medicines concentrate on reducing stress and help to stay positive and relax. They can also help to relieve anxiety or depression, improve health and well-being, and calm your emotions. Moreover, some people use these medicines as a way to feel positive and hopeful for the future. 

Different Types Of Alternate Medicine?

There are different types of complementary medicine. Besides, many parts of complementary medicines may overlap with the parts of another medical field. For instance, acupuncture is used in conventional medicine too. 

Traditional alternative medicine: It includes the more accepted forms of therapy like homeopathy, Ayurveda, acupuncture, Naturopathy, Chinese or Oriental medicine, and others.

Body Therapies: These techniques have been used in medical care and are combined with those of mind. The typical examples of body therapies that are mostly used are Tai Chi, Yoga, Massage, Body Movement therapies, and Chiropractic and Osteopathic medicine.  

Diet and Herbs: Since most people do not regularly consume a diet rich in vegetables, meat, fruits, grains, complex carbohydrates, and good fats, this can lead to nutritional depletion and potential chronic diseases. The herbal and dietary approaches help to balance the nutritional well-being of the body. These approaches may include herbal medicine and dietary supplements. 

External energy: Most people assume that external energies from the other sources can affect their health. The most common external energy therapies are Reiki, Qigong, and Electromagnetic therapy.

Mind: Even conventional medicine identifies the power of the association between the body and mind. According to studies, people heal better when they have good mental and emotional health. The hypnosis, Meditation, and biofeedback are the therapies using mind power.  


In modern times, complimentary medicine is undoubtedly a great approach to overall health and wellness. It comes with little to no side effects, but provides a gazillion benefits.  As with anything new, it’s important to research the various modalities available.  It is also important to research your therapist, instructor, or practitioner to ensure you will receive the best quality of care possible.  And, don’t forget, communication is key; ask questions, learn as much as you can from the professionals who practice and deliver these wonderful alternative treatments.  Wishing you great health and happiness! 


WHO Strategy for Traditional Medicine 2014-2023 

Alternative and complementary medicine