Complementary medicine, also called alternative medicine, refers to non-traditional practices used in addition to treatment prescribed by your doctor.While some non-traditional therapies can be helpful, others can be harmful. Herbal supplements or vitamins can act like drugs or cause dangerous interactions with other drugs you are taking. Always talk with your doctor before changing your treatment, or trying any new approach to your health care.
When used appropriately - in combination with conventional therapy - complementary approaches can help manage symptoms, reduce stress and improve your sense of well-being.
Some common examples of complementary medicine include:
- Visualization or relaxation
- Acupressure and massage
- Vitamins and herbal products
- Special diets or nutritional supplements
- Spiritual practices
If you are interested in learning more about any of these practices, talk to your doctor or nurse. You can also research them through The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH): nccam.nih.gov.