Alternative Healthcare

What are Alternative, Complementary, and Integrative Health Approaches?

Understanding Alternative, Complementary, and Integrative Health Approaches

When it comes to your health, there are options beyond the mainstream solutions offered by most

doctors and medical practitioners. These non-mainstream approaches can be divided into alternative

and complementary:


Alternative Health Approaches

When a non-mainstream treatment is used in place of a mainstream treatment, it is considered

alternative. Many people result to alternative approaches when they have exhausted several

mainstream methods to no avail.


Complementary Health Approaches

When non-mainstream practices are used in combination with mainstream practices, this is a

complementary approach. This is a much more common form of treatment than the alternative

approach, as it utilizes the best of both worlds.


The Integrative Approach

Integrative healthcare utilizes a complementary approach, incorporating it into mainstream healthcare.

An example of an integrative approach would be a doctor recommending mindfulness meditation in

addition to cognitive therapy for a psychological illness, such as anxiety for example. Cognitive therapy is

a conventional approach that tends to provide effective results. If a patient prescribed cognitive therapy

were to also practice mediation, this approach would be complimentary. When both are recommended

by the doctor, this is integrating the non-mainstream mediation with the mainstream cognitive therapy.


Why Integrative Health Approaches are the Best Kind

Most modern conventional medicine in industrialized societies is tested with the scientific method and

the effects are well documented. Non-mainstream approaches can have documented effects, but many

are not acknowledged by conventional medicine. A couple examples include:


  • Acupuncture – The use of very fine needles inserted into the skin at precise points in a person’s

body is an ancient practice that has been used for thousands of years. It is not normally

accepted in conventional western medicine as an actual treatment, even though many people

have found relief from their ailments after an acupuncture treatment.

  • Yoga, qi gong, and tai chi – Body movement practices that focus on breath control and

manipulation of life energy, known as “qi” in Chinese or “ki” in Japanese, are also an ancient

practice. Regular practice tends to lead to improved health and can also be a preventative

measure against illnesses that could occur later in life.


Finding the Right Balance

Depending on your cultural background, a practice that mainstream practitioners view as unorthodox

may be the first thing you think of. In many Chinese societies, traditional Chinese medicine is still

practiced as the primary health approach. It may also be that you find mainstream to be reliable and you

question alternative or complementary approaches. The ideal approach takes into account the pros and

cons of both mainstream and non-mainstream healing.

When you look into treating and diagnosing health problems, take into account all of the different

perspectives. By not excluding either approach, you can find the optimal treatment option.

March 7, 2016
Posted by admin
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