Alternative medicine is often loosely defined. It can be a set of products, a set of practices, or a set of theories believed to have the same healing effects of Western medicine. However, there are differing types of alternative healing practices. Before embarking on your own alternative medicine journey, read up on the necessary terminology to get set on the right path.
Complementary Medicine—Also known as integrative medicine, this is when alternative medicine is used in conjunction with functional medical treatment with the believe that it improves the practice.
Allopathic Medicine—This is commonly used by homeopaths. It was used to describe traditional European practice based on the four “humours”: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. Allopathy refers to the use of pharmacologically active agents to treat or suppress symptoms of diseases or conditions.
CAM—Known professional as Complementary and Alternative Medicine, this practice often utilizes the terms “balance,” “whole,” and “holistic.” This is an umbrella term for alternative medicine.
Traditional Medicine—This refers to pre-scientific practices of certain cultures. It is used as both a healing tool and a as a strategy for understanding and acknowledging cultural heritage.
These definitions were generated by the writers of the Alternative Medicine Channel. Definitions vary from organization to organization. For further reading on the difficulties in defining these medicinal practices, we recommend sifting through the website of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.