AAFA Explains: What Is the Difference Between Alternative and Complementary Medicine?

 

What is the difference between alternative, complementary and integrative medicine?

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) wants you to know what these mean so that you can make informed healthcare choices.

Complementary medicine refers to something you do or take along with treatment your doctor tells you to follow.

Alternative medicine refers to something you do or take instead of your regular treatment.

Integrative health care is the practice of combining complementary and mainstream medical care.

Some examples may be:

  • acupuncture or acupressure
  • massage
  • exercises such as yoga
  • meditation
  • dietary supplements
  • special diets (*not for food allergies)
  • herbs

Talk with your health care provider before making any changes to your treatment plans. If you have asthma, always carry quick-relief medications and know the warning signs of asthma. If you have severe allergies, always carry emergency medications and know the warning signs of a severe allergic reaction.

Articles in our series:

Can Herbal Supplements Help My Nasal Allergies?

Is Salt Therapy Safe and Effective for Asthma?

Will Coffee or Caffeinated Drinks Help My Asthma?

Can Essential Oils Help Asthma?

Can Vitamin D Help My Asthma?

Medical Review February 2016.

In upcoming posts, AAFA will explore treatments that may be "likely safe" or "potentially unsafe." It is important to stay up-to-date on news about asthma and allergies. By joining our community and following our blog, you will receive timely news about research and treatments. Our community also provides an opportunity to connect with other patients who manage these conditions for peer support.


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