Complementary and Integrative Medicine


Many Americans use medical treatments that are not part of mainstream medicine. This type of care may be called complementary, integrative, or alternative medicine. Complementary medicine is used together with mainstream medical care. An example is using acupuncture to help with the side effects of cancer treatment. When healthcare providers and facilities offer both types of care, it is called integrative medicine. Alternative medicine would be used instead of mainstream medical care.

The claims that practitioners make about their benefits can sound promising. However, researchers do not know how safe many of these treatments are or how well they work. Studies are underway to determine the safety and usefulness of many of these practices. To minimize the health risks of a non-mainstream treatment

  • Discuss it with your doctor. It might have side effects or interact with other medicines.
  • Find out what the research says about it.
  • Choose practitioners carefully.
  • Tell all of your doctors and practitioners about all of the different types of treatments you are using.
  • Source: MedlinePlus

    Note: This topic was prepared to help consumers find reliable health resources on the web. This site is not responsible for the information on other sites. The information here — and on all websites — is not intended to be a substitute for care given to you by a health professional.

    Recommended Reading

    Complementary and Integrative Medicine, MedlinePlus
    Read the latest news and find links to additional information from MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

    National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
    The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is one of the institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NCCIH's mission is to support rigorous research, to train researchers and to disseminate information to the public and professionals on which modalities work, which do not, and why.

    Which Therapies Work?

    Health Topics, NCCIH
    This information from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health may be searched by type of treatment and by disease or condition.

    Integrative Medicine Program, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
    This link from the MD Anderson Cancer Center provides information about many therapies, research and clinical trials.

    Selecting a Complementary Health Provider

    Be An Informed Consumer, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
    This link provides advice from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health on selecting a complementary health practitioner, as well as other information.

    Local Resources

    Poudre River Public Library District
    Search the library collection for books about complementary or alternative medicine, or use the library's health, sciences and technology databases.

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    Best Health Sites
    This collection of web links, organized by site type, will help you find the health information you're looking for.

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