Alternative health, healthcare or therapies refer to any medical treatments that are not traditional hospital or GP offered medicine techniques.
Alternative healthcare is either used alongside conventional medicine or instead of it.
The term is often used interchangeably with “complementary medicine”.
When it’s used alongside traditional medicine, it’s complementary, but if it’s used in place of conventional medicine, then it’s usually considered alternative.
When a healthcare provider uses both alternative therapies and conventional medicine, then it’s called integrative medicine. A doctor or healthcare provider who uses integrative medicine uses all therapeutic methods to ensure their patients are healthy.
Here are some examples of different approaches:
- Energetic approach: Reiki, Reflexology
- Nutritional approach: Diets, dietary supplements, probiotics and herbs used in alternative and complementary therapies.
- Psychological approach: Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) (Energy Psychology), meditation and hypnosis.
- Physical approaches: Dance, Acupuncture and massages.
- Combination of physiological and physical: These are therapies that affect the mind and body simultaneously. They include yoga, tai-chi, dance therapy, etc.
More research should be done to prove the safety and effectiveness of alternative healthcare. While some such as meditation, yoga, and massages have been used for years and are widely accepted in traditional medicine circles, others like homeopathy and Reiki are still met with skepticism by some.
However, many alternative therapies have been used for centuries with little or no safety concerns.