|alternative medicine (ôl-tûr'nə-tĭv) Pronunciation Key
A variety of therapeutic or preventive health-care practices that are not typically taught or practiced in traditional medical communities and offer treatments that differ from standard medical practice. Homeopathy, herbal medicine, and acupuncture are types of alternative medicine.
Medical practice or therapy that uses methods that have not been associated with the traditional, standard care most generally taught and executed by AMA-certified medical schools.
Note: Alternative medicine includes practices such as acupuncture, naturopathy, and chiropractic, as well as such therapies as chelation therapy, homeopathic remedies, and biofeedback. There has been an explosion of interest in alternative medicine in recent years.
Alternative and complementary medicine covers a broad range of healing philosophies, approaches, and therapies. The Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines alternative and complementary medicine as "those treatments and health care practices not taught widely in medical schools, not generally used in hospitals, and not usually reimbursed by medical insurance companies." Many of these therapies are holistic, which means that the health care practitioner considers the whole person, including his or her physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual characteristics. Many treatments are also preventive, the practitioner educating and treating the person to prevent health problems from arising rather than treating the patient after disease has already occurred. Some of the commonly used alternative and complementary therapies are acupuncture, Ayurveda, chiropractic, herbal medicine, homeopathy, massage, meditation, naturopathy, prayer, shamanism, therapeutic touch, and yoga.
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