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Complementary and Integrative Medicine

Also called: CAM
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Summary

Many Americans use medical treatments that are not part of mainstream medicine. When you are using these types of care, it may be called complementary, integrative, or alternative medicine.

Complementary medicine is used together with mainstream medical care. An example is using acupuncture to help with side effects of cancer treatment. When health care providers and facilities offer both types of care, it is called integrative medicine. Alternative medicine is used instead of mainstream medical care.

The claims that non-mainstream practitioners make can sound promising. However, researchers do not know how safe many of these treatments are or how well they work. Studies are underway to determine the safety and usefulness of many of these practices.

To minimize the health risks of a non-mainstream treatment:

  • Discuss it with your doctor. It might have side effects or interact with other medicines.
  • Find out what the research says about it
  • Choose practitioners carefully
  • Tell all of your doctors and practitioners about all of the different types of treatments you use

NIH: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Start Here

  • Are You Considering a Complementary Health Approach? From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) Also in Spanish
  • Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What's In a Name? From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Integrative Medicine (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • Integrative Medicine: What Is It, Types, Risks, and Benefits (Cleveland Clinic Foundation)

Related Issues

  • 4 Tips: Start Talking with Your Health Care Providers about Complementary Health Approaches From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • 6 Commonly Misunderstood Words About Complementary Health Approaches From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • 6 Things to Know When Selecting a Complementary Health Practitioner From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) Also in Spanish
  • Credentialing, Licensing, and Education From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Herbs at a Glance From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Know the Science: The Facts about Health News Stories From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Safe Use of Complementary Health Products and Practices From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)

Specifics

  • 5 Things You Should Know about Yoga From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • 6 Things To Know About Massage Therapy for Health Purposes From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Ayurvedic Medicine: In Depth From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Biofeedback (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Complementary Health Practices for U.S. Military, Veterans, and Families From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Homeopathy From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Hypnosis for Health: Can Trances Work? From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
  • Magnets for Pain From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Meditation and Mindfulness: What You Need to Know From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • MedlinePlus: Herbs and Supplements (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
  • Naturopathy From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) (Cleveland Clinic Foundation)
  • Qigong: What You Need To Know From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Relaxation Techniques: What You Need to Know From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Tai Chi and Your Health: A Modern Take on an Ancient Practice From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
  • Tai Chi: What You Need to Know From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Yoga for Health: Positioning Your Body and Mind From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
  • Yoga: What You Need to Know From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)

Statistics and Research

  • American Adults' and Children's Use of Yoga, Mediation, and Chiropractors: National Health Interview Survey 2017 (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Massage Therapy: What You Need to Know From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Sound Health: Music Gets You Moving and More From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish

Clinical Trials

  • ClinicalTrials.gov: Complementary Therapies From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • ClinicalTrials.gov: Homeopathy From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

  • Article: Prevalence and Characteristics of Australians Complementary Medicine Product Use, and Concurrent...
  • Article: The role of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine in cancer care...
  • Article: Non-pharmacological therapies for treating chronic pelvic pain in women: A review.
  • Complementary and Integrative Medicine -- see more articles

Reference Desk

  • Terms Related to Complementary and Integrative Health From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)

Find an Expert

  • Find a Massage Therapist (American Massage Therapy Association)
  • Find a NCCAOM Certified Practitioner (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine)
  • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health From the National Institutes of Health

Children

  • 7 Things to Know about Mind and Body Practices for Children and Teens From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Children and the Use of Complementary Health Approaches From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation)

Women

  • 4 Things to Know about Menopausal Symptoms and Complementary Health Practices From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Women's Health and Complementary Approaches From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)

Older Adults

  • Alternative Remedies (AGS Foundation for Health in Aging)
  • Mind and Body Practices for Older Adults (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.

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