Complementary Medicine - the evidence
What is complementary medicine?
In Australia, complementary medicine is a term generally used to encompass a diverse range of therapies and health products that aim to prevent, treat or manage illness. Two in three Australians have used complementary medicines over the past 12 months and approximately
42% of these use complementary medicine to prevent or manage chronic, high priority health problems. The term complementary medicine is often used interchangeably with traditional, holistic, natural or alternative medicine and other variations.1
Complementary treatments are used in combination with conventional medicine. Alternative treatments are used instead of conventional medicine.
Why do people use complementary medicine?
Many Australians choose to use complementary medicine to address their health and wellbeing needs. People give many reasons for using complementary medicine.2, 3, 4, 5
These often reflect personal and cultural beliefs and values, including:
- Regarding complementary medicine therapies as natural and less toxic than conventional treatments.
- Past experience using complementary medicine.
Other reasons may include specific goals such as:
- Easing symptoms or side effects from conventional treatments.
- Dealing with the stress related to a chronic illness and its treatment.
- Strengthening the body's ability to heal.
- Offering a sense of control over one's healthcare experience.
Like any decision concerning your health, the decision to use complementary medicine should be made after careful consideration and with the use of good information.
NICM has developed a number of Fact Sheets (opens in a new window) to assist you in your decision making. They provide basic information, answers to frequently asked questions, issues to consider, and sources for further information.1
Types of complementary medicine therapies