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Complementary medicine, also known as alternative medicine, encompasses a series of healing methods which do not fall in to the category of mainstream medicine but are becoming increasingly prevalent. It includes a variety of approaches that aim to treat the whole person rather than one condition or symptom. In addition to this, the energy or life force of the individual is also considered and supported.
The types of practices are all different in their styles and their origins – some are deeply rooted in culture or healing tradition, others are based more strongly on science, nutrition and individual spiritualism.
The reason they are all called alternative is because the evidence to support their effectiveness is somewhat less established than conventional, scientifically backed-up medicine. Despite this, millions of people across the world rely on different branches of alternative and complementary medicine, including homeopathy, acupuncture, aromatherapy, nutritional therapy, chiropractic, osteopathy, reflexology and sports therapy.
The methods behind complementary medicine are based on traditional medicines, folk knowledge, spiritual beliefs or new approaches to healing. There is often a focus on good nutrition and preventative practices to treat the whole person and promoting self-care and self-healing.