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Complementary medicine – committed to finding the right alternative for you


Complementary medicine is becoming increasingly popular. The range of providers and methods on the market is correspondingly large, so it's difficult to make the right choice. We help you independently and free of charge. The team of experts in our complementary medicine advice centre is made up of specialists and trained naturopaths. Find out more about alternative medicine, naturopathy and complementary therapies.

What is complementary medicine?

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.

5 complementary medicine methods

Helsana works together with a large network of over 14,000 recognised complementary therapists and supports around 70 alternative treatment methods. These five are among the most popular:

Akupunktur Acupuncture

Together with herbal medicine, acupuncture is one of the most important treatment methods of traditional Chinese medicine. It involves stimulating specific points of the body by inserting thin needles to remove blockades in the flow of energy and relieve symptoms. In Chinese the method is known as "Zhen jiu", which translates as "needle fire".

Kinesiologie Applied kinesiology

Applied kinesiology is a technique for diagnosing and relieving energy blockades in the body by testing muscles. These blockades and the resulting conditions appear in the form of muscle weakness and cramps. The founder of applied kinesiology – George Goodheart – developed this method based on aspects of chiropractic, physiotherapy, homoeopathy as well as pedagogics and psychology.

Klassische Homoeopathie Classical homoeopathy

Homoeopathy is an independent system of medicine. The idea is that specially-produced "potentised" medicines that cause the symptoms of a certain disease in healthy people can cure it in people actually suffering from it. A simple example: we know that our eyes start to itch and water and our nose runs if we cut up an onion. Correspondingly, the onion as a potentised medicine is used in homoeopathy as a cold remedy.

Osteopathie Osteopathy

Osteopathy is one of the manual forms of treatment. Manipulation of the body's muscle tissue and bones in a special way improves functionality and flexibility and activates the body's self-healing powers. It also has an effect on inner organs and body structures. Problems with one organ can trigger symptoms in other areas of the body. Osteopathy has a regulatory effect here.

Shiatsu Shiatsu

Literally translated Shiatsu means "finger pressure" and is a form of body therapy developed in Japan. The aim of the treatment is to get blocked energy flowing again and harmonise the body's meridians as a whole. At the same time it helps to activate the body's self-healing powers, relieving tension and reducing stress, for example.

Source: EMR EM index, quality label for complementary therapists

Our benefits for the perfect alternative

Complementary medicine methods can help to effectively treat a large number of complaints and offer patients relief or even a cure. Benefit from our expertise in the area of complementary medicine.

Generous benefits for complementary medicine

If you wish to use complementary medicine it is in any case worth taking out supplementary insurance as basic insurance covers only a small part: medical benefits associated with complementary medicine may be paid under the basic insurance policy in accordance with the Federal Health Insurance Act only if the doctor has been issued with a recognised licence by the Swiss Medical Association (FMH) and practices one of the five defined methods:

  • Anthroposophic medicine
  • Classical homoeopathy
  • Phytotherapy
  • Pharmacotherapy within traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)
  • Acupuncture

The costs are refunded according to the tariff in the canton where the person lives or the tariff for their work location.

SANA and COMPLETA supplementary insurance cover additional benefits that go beyond those of the basic insurance policy. In medically indicated cases we will cover 75% of the treatment costs up to an unlimited amount.

More about the benefits

Free advice line

Our experts on complementary medicine help you to choose the appropriate therapy for your condition and to find a recognised doctor, naturopath or therapist close to you who can treat you professionally. And you find out immediately whether we will cover the costs of the treatment.

For all customers of the Helsana Group
0800 100 590 (free from the fixed network)
Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. - 6.00 p.m.

More about the advice line

Susanne Lanz “I have finally got rid of my neck pain”

Susanne Lanz had been suffering from neck pain for many years. No treatment brought permanent relief. She called our complementary medicine advice line – and finally experienced a turnaround.
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«I didn't believe in that sort of thing»

Lenio* is four years old and has been suffering from recurrent warts for some time. Even though the doctor's been treating them, they keep popping up all over him. His mother goes to Helsana's complementary medicine advice centre in search of an answer.
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