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Complementary Medicine

"The terms of complementary medicine and alternative medicine refer to a broad set of health care practices that are not part of the country’s own tradition or conventional medicine and are not fully integrated into the dominant health care system. They are used interchangeably with traditional medicine in some countries". [1]

"Complementary medicine is diagnosis, treatment and/or prevention which complement mainstream medicine by contributing to a common whole, by satisfying a demand not met by orthodoxy or by diversifying the conceptual frameworks of medicine”. [2]

“The term ‘complementary’ seems to be most often used to refer to the whole range of therapies that are not Western biomedicine, but it is sometimes also used to refer to a subset of these therapies. When used in this more specific form, ‘complementary’ is sometimes used solely to refer to therapies that can be used to supplement Western biomedical treatment, such as aromatherapy and hypnotherapy”. [3]

“Any of the practices (as acupuncture) of alternative medicine accepted and utilized by the mainstream medical practitioners”. [4]

"Complementary medicine is treatments that are used along with standard medical treatments but are not considered to be standard treatments". [5]

“Complementary medicine refers to treatments that may be used as adjuncts to conventional treatment and are not usually taught in medical schools”. [6]

  1. World Health Organization (WHO). WHO Traditional Strategy Medicine, 2014 – 2023. China: WHO; 2013.
  2. Ernst E, Resch KL, Mills S et al. Complementary Medicine- a Definition. Br J Gen Pract. 1995;45. p. 506.
  3. Ministerial Advisory Committee on Complementary & Alternative Health. Terminology in Complementary and Alternative Health. Ministrial Advisory Committee on Comlementary and Alternative Health. New Zealand: 2002. 
  4. Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Online Dictionary.  [cited 2007 June 8]. Available from: 
  5. National Cancer Institute. U.S. National Institute of health. [homepage on the internet]. No date [updated; cited 2006 September 8]. Available from:
  6. Rees L, Weil A. Integrated Medicine. Integrated Medicine. BMJ. 2001; 322:119-120.