Traditional medicine is based on scientific evidence and involves a doctor, hospitals and prescriptions. However, if a patient seeks unconventional treatments – whether proven safe or effective – it is considered alternative treatments or complementary alternative medicine (CAM).
If that same patient uses treatments in conjunction with traditional medical care, they are using complementary treatments. If alternative treatments are used in place of standard healthcare treatments, then it is considered alternative medicine.
Both alternative medicine and complementary treatments have been used for centuries and work with nature and the body itself for healing. There are many options available to those who want to live pain-free with the use of herbal medicines, massage, manipulation and exercises.
Below is a list of some of the more popular alternative treatments, alternative therapies and complementary treatments used by practitioners and patients.
Acupressure – This treatment is similar toacupuncture, but instead of needles, finger pressure is used to relieve tension, pain, menstrual cramps and arthritis.
Acupuncture (Chinese Medicine) – Fine needles are strategically placed on the body in order to stimulate the flow of energy and reset balance and health. This treatment is said to improve overall health while relieving acute and chronic pain, fighting hunger and addressing degenerative conditions.
Alexander Technique – Variety in day to day body movements is thought to improve balance, coordination, movement and body support.
Aromatherapy – Essential oils make up this alternative treatment, relieving patients from stress and anxiety. Often, aromatherapy is used while other alternative therapies such as massage, chiropractic, acupuncture and herbology.
Cellular Therapy – Also known as embryonic cell therapy, this therapy uses injections or oral pills made from tissue (animal, fetus or organs) to regenerate diseased organs.
Chelation Therapy – Chelation therapy is a series of intravenous injections of the synthetic amino acid EDTA, designed to detoxify the body. It is also often used to treat arteriosclerosis. Most frequently, this is administered in an osteopathic or medical doctor’s office.
Chiropractic Medicine – The spine, thought to be the foundation of health, is manipulated back into alignment.
Chinese Medicine – Ancient and modern techniques (acupuncture, massage, cupping, heat therapy, herbal medicine and counseling) are blended and used to treat both acute and chronic illnesses.
Chromotherapy – Colored light is used for its healing properties.
Ear Candles – A narrow, hollow candle is inserted into the ear while the opposite end is lit. This alternative medicine treatment relieves ear and sinus infections as well as wax buildup.
Energy Therapies – Magnets and therapeutic touch works with the body’s energy fields for better health.
Fasting – This alternative therapy purifies and rejuvenates the body, relieving it of toxins and waste.
Feng Shui (Ancient Chinese) – Home and work furnishings are arranged to promote health and the flow of chi.
Gem Therapy – Gems are used to treat certain conditions and disorders.
Herbal Medicine – (Ayurvedic, Chinese and Traditional) Plant matter, in the form of pills and extracts, is believed to rebalance the body.
Holistic Medicine – The whole person is treated for any emotional, physical or spiritual misalignments.
Homeopathy – Natural substances stimulate a person’s immune and defense system while correcting allergies, infections, childhood diseases, fatigue and chronic illnesses.
Hydrotherapy – Water therapy is used to correct physical ailments.
Hypnotherapy – The subconscious is tapped where suppressed memories and emotions may be causing emotional or behavioral issues. Weight loss, smoking, phobias and stress are typically addressed with hypnosis.
Iridology - The iris is believed to be the “window” to a patient’s health.
Lymph Drainage Therapy – Lymphatic nodes all over the body are stimulated and drained for overall health improvement.
Massage Therapy – The manipulation of the body’s soft tissue is thought to improve health.
Naturopathic Medicine – Naturopathic physicians use herbs, nutrition and alternative medicines to restore and support the body’s abilities to heal.
Osteopathic Medicine – Osteopathic physicians offer complete medical care for bones, joints and soft tissue as well as preventive care. They are trained in osteopathic manipulative treatment, preventive medicine, surgery, prescription medications and hospital referrals.
Pyramid Healing – Pyramid shaped structures are believed to help heal the body.
Psychotherapy – Stress, depression and addiction is treated with one-on-one or group psychotherapy. Alternative medicines are used in conjunction with the therapies.
Reflexology – Pressure points in the hands and feet are believed to correspond with organs and tissues in the body.
Shiatsu (Japanese Medicine) – Known as the most common form of acupressure, shiatsu uses finger pressure to stimulate the body’s chi.
Sound Therapy – Like Chromotherapy, this alternative treatment uses sound waves to heal.
A wide range of vitamins are used to treat a variety of illnesses while enhancing physical functionality and curing diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Yoga Therapy – The physical discipline is said to improve mental, emotional and physical issues.