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What is the difference between complementary medicine and alternative medicine?

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An alternative medicine means that it is a system within itself and complete. For the most part one can use the alternative medical system for almost all their healthcare needs. A complementary modality works in conjunction with another medicine. Complementary medicine is in fact, not medicine, but a collection of modalities. A complementary modality completes the overall needed therapy. It doesn't stand alone as a complete medical system. Examples of alternative medical systems are allopathic (Western) medicine, Chinese (Oriental) medicine and ayurvedic medicine. Examples of complementary modalities would be chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, energetic healing, etc. However, the conotations of these terms, complementary medicine and alternative medicine, are different. Anything other than allopathic medicine has been classified as an alternative medicine. As a result, Chinese medicine -- a complete medical system, and therefore, an alternative medicine -- is placed in a ... more
chimedicineworks.com
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An alternative medicine means that it is a system within itself and complete. For the most part one can use the alternative medical system for almost all their healthcare needs. A complementary modality works in conjunction with another medicine. Complementary medicine is in fact, not medicine, but a collection of modalities. A complementary modality completes the overall needed therapy. It doesn't stand alone as a complete medical system. Examples of alternative medical systems are allopathic (Western) medicine, Chinese (Oriental) medicine and ayurvedic medicine. Examples of complementary modalities would be chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, energetic healing, etc. However, the connotations of these terms, complementary medicine and alternative medicine, are different. Anything other than allopathic medicine has been classified as an alternative medicine. As a result, Chinese medicine -- a complete medical system, and therefore, an alternative medicine -- is placed in a ... more
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Complementary medicine is used together with standard medical care. An example is using acupuncture to help with side effects of cancer treatment. Alternative medicine is used in place of standard medical care. An example is using chelation therapy to treat heart disease. more
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