Alternative medicine refers to healing practices that fall outside the purview of mainstream, conventional medicine. There are many forms of alternative medicine, each with its own origin, approach, and techniques.
Alternative medicine practices typically fall into one or more categories. For example, “traditional medicine” refers to medical practices with historical origins in a particular culture. Eastern medical practices, like acupuncture and ayurvedic medicine, are just some examples of traditional medicine.
Complementary medicine typically refers to alternative medicine that is widely accepted by the conventional medical community as providing a valuable additional service. Chiropractic medicine is a good example of this treatment model, often incorporated as a part of conventional rehabilitation therapy.
Functional medicine is the art of examining symptoms while they are still in functional rather than pathological ranges. It considers the results of diagnostic tests and other lifestyle factors and identifies current imbalances that may later result in a full pathological disease if not brought back into balance now.
Holistic medicine indicates a complete approach to healing, one that examines all the factors that influence health – mental state, physical condition, environmental influences, and even spiritual factors. Many types of alternative medicine can be practiced with a limited focus or with a holistic approach.
Integrative health refers to a philosophy that takes the best evidence-based practices from both conventional medicine and alternative medicine, favoring natural and non-invasive techniques whenever possible. Integrative healing is a holistic approach that begins by identifying the underlying causes of disease and creates action plans to address those causes and eliminate their harmful effects.