By Mayo Clinic staff
Alternative medicine means practices not typical in conventional medicine and includes things such as herbs and dietary supplements, meditation, massage, and acupuncture. When an alternative practice is used in addition to conventional therapy, it's called complementary. Evidence-based complementary therapies are being combined more often with conventional care, giving rise to a new term "integrative medicine." You're using integrative medicine when you add a complementary treatment to an existing conventional treatment.
Although alternative and complementary practices are becoming more common, many have not been rigorously tested for safety and effectiveness. So before you try something considered to be alternative medicine, take time to investigate the risks and benefits. Your doctor can be a good resource — and needs to know about any alternative medicine you're considering.
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