What are the main differences between complementary and alternative medicine and conventional medicine?
Complementary and alternative medicine:
- tends to be holistic and includes therapies from various historical and cultural backgrounds
- often needs you to take an active part in your own treatment with lifestyle changes (e.g. diet, exercise, meditation or psychological exercises)
- features therapies that are diverse in nature and origins. The ways in which these therapies are thought to work are also diverse, although many are based on the idea of enabling your body’s ability to heal itself.
- mainly focuses on understanding and correcting the underlying problems that are causing your symptoms. In many instances these aren’t fully understood, although there have been major advances in recent years, especially in rheumatoid arthritis, with much of the research being funded by Arthritis Research UK
- is often criticised for treating your condition and not you as a person, expecting you to accept the diagnosis and treatment
- is increasingly recognising the importance of your involvement and choice in your treatment, and many argue this is due to the influence of complementary and alternative medicine approaches.
Both styles of treatment emphasise the quality of the relationship between you and the practitioner. A good relationship is important for a successful outcome. Often, both conventional and complementary and alternative medicine approaches are used – this is called integrated medicine.