Alternative and Complementary Medicine: Old Medicine, New Synergies


The terms alternative medicine and complementary medicine
are often wrongly used as synonyms. Actually, the term
alternative medicine refers to medicine systems like
Ayurveda or Acupuncture that are used in place of
conventional medicine, while complementary medicine refers
to those therapies like massage that are used in
conjunction with conventional medicine.

However, both end up performing the same role in several
western countries. That is why in popular parlance
alternative medicine has come to be known as complementary
medicine, giving birth to the term alternative and
complementary medicine.

Most practitioners recognize acupuncture, osteopathy,
chiropractic, Ayurveda, Homeopathy and herbal medicine as
the most important forms of alternative and complementary
medicine.

These may be the major alternative therapies but the list
of alternative and complementary medicine does not end
here. The other medicinal systems that can be included in
this grouping are naturopathy, nutritional medicine,
aromatherapy, massage, crystal healing and different types
of energy medicine. Barring Homeopathy, most of the
alternative and complementary medicine systems evolved in
ancient times in countries like India, China, Egypt, Tibet
and Persia.

An important aspect of alternative and complementary
medicine is that it focuses on the person as a whole. The
medicine is therefore based not only on the patient’s
physical symptoms but also on the individual’s lifestyle,
environment, diet, mental and emotional health; sometimes
even the spiritual health. That is why alternative
medicine is called holistic medicine.

Interestingly, alternative and complementary medicine is
no longer limited to the mystic Orient. But the western
world to is recognizing these medicinal therapies as an
important component of healing.

Countries like India and China are using their knowledge
of alternative and complementary medicine to promote what
has come to be known as medical tourism. A large number of
westerners are flying to these Asian countries to look for
holistic cures.

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