According to both Johns Hopkins University and The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), more than 40 percent of the American population report using alternative medicine therapies outside of conventional medicine, and for pain control when prescribed medications prove to be ineffective.

If you’ve ever stretched out on a yoga mat or taken a probiotic, you may be part of this growing segment.

Alternative medicine may include interventions such as herbal remedies, reflexology, chiropractic, nutritional supplements, massage therapy and acupuncture.

Do the professionals buy into the results?

More medical professionals are beginning to suggest the use of alternative therapies in combination with conventional medical treatments, studies are underway to examine the usefulness and safety of these nonstandard treatments.

    So, what is complementary medicine all about?

    Alternative and complementary medicine, sometimes referred to as CAM, is an umbrella term for a vast array of treatments that fall outside conventional approaches. The two terms actually refer to different concepts:

    Alternative medicine is not included in the traditional curricula taught in medical schools, whereas complementary healthcare refers to alternative treatments used in conjunction with mainstream treatment.

    For example, alternative medicine might differ from complementary medicine in that alternative therapy might use a special diet to treat cancer instead of undergoing surgery, radiation or chemo that was recommended by a physician; and complementary medicine is a group of diagnostic and therapeutic disciplines that are used together with conventional medicine. An example of a complementary therapy is using aromatherapy to help lessen a patient’s discomfort following surgery.

      Should I be concerned about the cost?

      Alternative medicine therapies can be less expensive than conventional medical treatments.

      Even though some alternative therapies might be expensive, many herbal remedies and other natural treatments still cost less than prescription medications and treatments. Acupuncture and chiropractic sessions can cost significantly less than conventional pain therapy treatments.

      Combined complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) might offer some of the following:

      • acupuncture
      • aromatherapy
      • chiropractic medicine
      • diet therapy
      • herbalism
      • holistic nursing
      • homeopathy
      • hypnosis
      • massage therapy
      • meditation
      • nutritional therapy
      • reflexology
      • yoga

      What’s my “call to action”?

      There could be situations where conventional doctors might simply diagnose – nothing more. Then it’s up to the patient to find a doctor who can do more.

      It is, in theory, easy to measure results. A patient is diagnosed with an illness. A doctor tries to treat the illness and it persists or it is defeated. But when an ‘alternative practitioner’ defeats an illness it is seldom recorded, it simply becomes ‘anecdotal evidence’.

      With so many adults using some form of alternative medicine, benefit programs can be of great value when offering its members 10% to 30% savings on health and wellness needs with over 40 specialties and 43,000 practitioners nationwide.

      Whether you need to reduce stress, relieve migraines, quit smoking, or a more serious issue, alternative and complementary medicine can help.