Complementary Health

Millions of Americans use complémentaire santé approaches. These include nonvitamin, nonmineral dietary supplements, practitioner-based chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, massage therapy, and yoga with deep breathing or meditation. Acupuncture, herbs, tai chi, and religious or spiritual practices are also widely used. In a few cases, these products and practices have been shown to be safe and to help people with certain health problems. However, many others have not. It’s important to choose products and practitioners carefully. This can help you get the most benefit from a product or practice and minimize risks. Ask your health care provider for recommendations. They can help you find scientific information about a product or practice and make sure it won’t interfere with any treatments you are receiving.

Complementary Health

NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) provides funding for research on complementary health approaches and supports the dissemination of evidence-based information about these approaches. NCCAM’s website has detailed information on what complementary health approaches are and how they work.

Often, practitioners use terms and ideas that are difficult for the average person to understand. For example, acupuncturists may talk about the “qi energy” that runs through the body and how the flow of this energy is affected by various situations. It is also common for these practitioners to use a holistic approach. This means they take into account physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of a person’s life when making treatment decisions.

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