What is complementary medicine?
Complementary medicine is a term used for a wide variety of health
care practices that may be used along with standard medical
People often use yoga, meditation, and other complementary practices
to improve wellness and quality of life. But in recent years, more
people in the United States have been turning to complementary
medicine to help treat a wide range of conditions from hot flashes
to high blood pressure. Other examples of complementary medicine
include acupuncture, herbal remedies, naturopathic medicine, massage
therapy, and light therapy.
Is research being done on complementary medicine?
Even though most complementary therapies and medicines have been in
use for hundreds or even thousands of years, many have not been
subject to the same rigorous scientific testing for safety and
effectiveness that standard medical treatments go through before
they are approved in the United States. In many cases, the very
nature of a complementary therapy, such as music therapy or prayer,
can make it difficult or impossible to evaluate by the same
scientific methods or criteria.
But more research is being done on complementary therapies. The
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
and other offices of the National Institutes of Health provide
information to the public and to health professionals on the use and
effectiveness of complementary medicine therapies. NCCAM's goal is
to develop guidelines to help people choose safe and appropriate
alternative and complementary therapies.