Difference between Alternative and Complementary Medicine

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Any health care practices that fall outside the conventional medicine or standard mainstream Western medicinal therapies are either alternative or complementary medicine. Complementary medicine entails the application of non-conventional therapeutic practice in combination with mainstream medicine. They include health products and practices that have complementary functioning with the traditional medicine (NCCIH, 2016). Alternative medicine, on the other hand, entail the application of non-mainstream therapeutic practice to replace conventional medicine. They include healing products and practices that substitute conventional medicine.

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Complementary Medicine

Fish Oil

They fall under the complementary medicine category which entails the series of naturally occurring products such as probiotics, minerals and vitamins, and botanical herbs. Fish oil is one of the most useful natural product from the NHIS study that represents the availability of natural products in the forms of dietary supplements (NCCIH, 2016). AFP (2015) attributes the usefulness of fish oil to its richness in omega-3 fatty acids with uses traversing the treatment of kidney-related disorders to muscle strengthening and treating seasonal allergies. FDA has approved fish oil as the natural products that can lower the levels of triglycerides hence alleviation from heart diseases.

Alternative Medicine


Chronic rhinosinusitis

Alternative medicinal approaches for treating CRS entail the use of botanicals and nutrients such as undecylenic acid, N-acetylcysteine and ascorbic acid (Olver & Robotin, 2012).

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Mainstream medicine for RA has efficacy and safety issues, but alternative therapeutic strategies include antibiotics, botanicals, nutritional supplements and dietary modifications.


Alternative treatment for asthma entails the use of antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin E, C, B12 and B6, zinc, selenium, fish oil and physical modalities like chiropractic and acupuncture.

Outcomes of Alternative Medicine

Positive Outcomes

Efficacy, cost, and safety explain the positive results of alternative medicine such as acupuncture which has fewer side effects that chemotherapy in alleviation of cancer symptoms.

Negative Outcomes

Alternative medicines have the potential to cause hazardous interactions even in the case where natural products lack artificial supplements, alternative modalities herbs, and dietary supplements has the potential of interacting with previous over-the-counter medications (Olver & Robotin, 2012). References

BIBLIOGRAPHY AFP. (2015, July 4). Your questions about complementary medicines answered: fish oil. Retrieved from Australian Family Physician: http://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2015/july/your-questions-about-complementary-medicines-answered-fish-oil/

NCCIH. (2016, June 23). Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: Whats In a Name? Retrieved from National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health,: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/integrative-health

Olver, I., & Robotin, M. (2012). Perspectives on complementary and alternative medicines. London: Imperial College Press.

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