Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Alternative Therapy

Alternative Therapy

What is alternative therapy?

Alternative therapy (or alternative medication) is a nonconventional approach to healing. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are usually discussed together, but are actually two different therapy approaches:

Some people use complementary treatments to relieve symptoms or side effects while undergoing standard or conventional treatment (such as pain relief during cancer treatment). Standard or conventional medicine refers to medical treatments that have been scientifically tested and found to be safe and effective. The standard or conventional treatments have been approved by the FDA.

Other people may decide to pursue alternative therapy. It's highly recommended that you consult your doctor before beginning any treatment regimen, as these treatments are not scientifically tested or proven.

They can delay the use of proven methods or actually be harmful.

What are the different types of CAM?

Many different fields make up the practice of complementary and alternative medicine. In addition, many components of one field may overlap with the components of another field. Examples of CAM include:

Before considering CAM

Most complementary and alternative medicine fields aren't standardized or controlled by any Western medical guidelines. Always consult with your doctor before beginning any complementary or alternative medicine therapy, because some therapies may interfere with standard treatment.

Being an informed health care consumer when considering complementary or alternative medicine is important. Ways to gather information before starting any therapy include:

What warning signs may indicate a fraudulent therapy?

According to the American Cancer Society, if a treatment has the following warning signs, it's better to avoid:

Click here to view the
Online Resources of Complementary & Alternative Medicine


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