Integrative medicine



Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the popular name for health care practices that traditionally haven't been part of conventional medicine. In many cases, as evidence of safety and effectiveness grows, these therapies are being combined with conventional medicine.

Thus, the term "alternative" has been dropped from the name. These therapies are now called complementary and integrative medicine, integrative medicine and health, or simply integrative medicine.

Integrative medicine combines the most well-researched conventional medicine with the most well-researched, evidence-based complementary therapies to achieve the appropriate care for each person.

Why it's done

Integrative medicine can help people who have symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety and pain. It can help people deal with conditions such as cancer, headaches and fibromyalgia. Examples of common practices include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Aromatherapy
  • Dietary and herbal supplements
  • Massage therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Meditation
  • Resilience training
  • Tai chi or yoga


The treatments promoted in integrative medicine are not substitutes for conventional medical care. They should be used along with standard medical treatment.

Certain therapies and products aren't recommended at all. Or they may not be recommended for certain conditions or people. The website of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is a good tool for researching a therapy you're considering. It's also important to talk with your health care provider before trying something new.