A number of different kinds of non-mainstream therapies can be used in addition to conventional medicine, including omega-3 supplements, hatha yoga and massage. These are sometimes called complementary health approaches, although the word alternative is also frequently used. It is important to discuss any treatment that is not part of your regular care with your doctor. They can help you find out if it is safe and can work with your regular treatments. They can also tell you if it could interact with any medications you are taking.
A lot of complementary practices have a long history in a particular culture and are based on a belief system. Practitioners may use terms that are not easily translated into Western scientific language, such as the reflex zones manipulated in reflexology or the “Qi energy” fundamental to Chinese or Ayurvedic medicine.
Many people who seek complementary therapies do so because they believe that illness arises when the body is out of balance. They may believe that the body can heal itself and return to a healthy state if given the chance. The therapies are usually gentle and aim to treat the whole person.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) recommends that you talk to your doctor before trying any alternative or complémentaire santé approach. They can tell you if it is likely to be safe and effective. They can also help you make sure that any new treatment won’t interfere with your regular medical treatments.