The term complementary is preferred because it conveys the idea that these therapies are used together with, rather than as a replacement for biomedical treatment. On the other hand, the term alternative conveys the thought of a therapy being used in place of a biomedical treatment.
Finding a good definition for complementary therapies has been an uphill task. Several definitions have been proposed. The complementary therapy is a broad area of medicine that is made up of health systems, practices and modalities plus their accompanying beliefs. In the definition, the term complementary medicine is used n place of complementary therapies. However, the word “medicine” can be changed to “therapies”.
There are more than 1700 identified complementary therapies. Classifying these therapies is as daunting as coming up with their definition. This is because the therapies vary and they encompass indigenous cultural practices that are vastly unknown in the western world. Additional challenges come up because the mechanisms of action for many complementary therapies are not known (Lange & Zahourek & Mariano 2013). NCCAM has suggested the following groups for complementary therapy: biological based therapies, mind-body therapies, manipulative and body-based therapies and energy therapies. NCCAM has noted that a complementary therapy is no longer classified as a complementary therapy once it becomes an accepted treatment for specific conditions (NCCAM, 2005). The boundaries between complementary therapy and the dominant health care systems keep changing. As a result, what may be considered as complementary at a point in time can be recognized as part of the mainstream healthcare later on.
Complementary and alternative therapies are healthcare topics that have instigated discussion and debate in a large way. Many people in the US have shown considerable interest in these topics. This is evident ...
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