Complementary medicine is a collective term for alternative treatment methods, diagnostic procedures and medicines. It has a long tradition – some methods date back thousands of years. Complementary medicine helps young and old with many complaints and illnesses and is practised by doctors, naturopaths and complementary therapists.
Complementary therapy refers to a range of treatments which primarily activate the body's self-healing powers and have a regulatory effect. Alternative medicine, though, is the term covering naturopaths' fields of expertise, such as homoeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and traditional European naturopathy (TEN). Other synonyms are: natural medicine, experience-based medicine, folk medicine and holistic medicine.
Conventional or complementary medicine?
Conventional and complementary medicine are based on different treatment approaches: the former focuses on symptoms and organic changes, while complementary medicine takes a holistic view of the body and looks at the background to an illness, i.e. the patient's life history, environment, strengths and weaknesses. It seeks to treat a patient using his/her own resources. It promotes self-awareness, individual responsibility and the competence to deal with complaints and illnesses.
As the use of the word "complementary" indicates, conventional and complementary medicine are not mutually exclusive. However, complementary medicine can also be used on its own. Ideally, treatment should be integrated and coordinated. Tell your doctor, naturopath and complementary therapist about all of your treatments. Complementary medicine is not suitable for acute emergencies, surgical operations or life-threatening illnesses. For this, conventional medicine is required.