Alternative vs. Traditional Medicine
Alternative and traditional medicine have a great deal to learn from each other. And we all have a lot to learn in terms of bringing the two closer together.
Alternative medicine is referred to in many different ways—alternative medicine, complementary medicine, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), nontraditional medicine, nonconventional medicine, unorthodox medicine, and a whole host of others. CAM is the term used by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and other mainstream medical establishments.
Traditional medicine is also referred to in many different ways—allopathic, traditional, conventional, orthodox, and Western medicine, to name a few. The term traditional, although used quite commonly, seems somewhat inaccurate, given that many alternative medical disciplines have been around for thousands of years, while many conventional practices have been around much less than a century. Most of these terms, actually, are only relevant in the context of Western culture.
The NIH defines alternative medicine as, "a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine."
Last reviewedFebruary 2013by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.