Complementary medicines are additional forms of treatment that may be given along with conventional or traditional medicine. The use of conventional and complementary medicine however, is of increasing interest. This approach is being adopted at various treatment centres as well as self-help groups.
Examples of complementary medicine include but are not limited to massage, meditation, biofeedback, tai chi, reiki, music therapy, guided imagery, and dietary supplements.
Types of complementary medicine therapies
- Sensory - Therapies that work in conjunction with the five senses: smell, site, taste, sound and touch, as well as the body's overall energy.
- Cognitive – Medicines that promote mind-body healing by using the power of positive thinking to facilitate recovery.
- Expressive - Treatments in which patients are encouraged to express their thoughts. Expressive therapies are thought to alleviate anxiety by allowing the patient to release fear and frustration in a positive, creative fashion.
- Physical - When possible for the patient, physical exercise has been shown to release endorphins (mood elevating hormones) and promote better general health, relief of tension and positive attitudes. Even something as simple as walking and certain forms of dance have been helpful to patients.
- Medical systems - An overall term used to describe the types of different, alternative, or non-traditional medicines that may be called upon in addition to western medicine. Some of these include naturopathy, anthroposophical medicine, western herbalism, Chinese herbalism, and ayurveda.
Health benefits of complementary medicine
Each type may target a specific aspect of your health. In general, complementary approaches may provide one or more of these health benefits:
- Encourages feelings of well-being, pleasure, positivity and inner peace
- Relieves pain
- Reduces anxiety and stress
- Improves wound healing
- Relieves muscle tension
- Decreases tiredness
- Reduces nausea
- Improves mood
- Increases relaxation
- Improves flexibility and circulation