Complementary Alternative Medicine

Written by Courtney Salinas
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Alternative medicine is a term used for any medicine that is not used in western doctors' offices. This can include vitamin and mineral supplements, acupuncture and massage, herbal creams and holistic practices. Although there has been a stigma surrounding alternative medicine, in recent years it has come more into the mainstream and has become more acceptable as a way to treat illness and pain.

Alternative medicines are not taught in United States medical schools and aren't available at U.S. hospitals. These non-orthodox treatments are sometimes based on ancient wisdom or simple trial and error. There is much misunderstanding surrounding many alternative methods and people often use terms inappropriately. A lot of people use the terms holistic and homeopathic interchangeably when they are actually very different. Holistic medicine is the consideration of all the parts of the body when approaching healing and pain relief.


Homeopathy is defined as the use of alternative medicines to cure ailments. The basic premise is that if a root or herb causes a reaction in a healthy patient, then giving that root or herb to a patient feeling the very symptoms caused by the root or herb (in the healthy person) will cure the ailment. In other words, let like cure like.

Homeopathy was developed by a physician named Samuel Hahnemann. The first theory of this Saxon physician was published in 1796. He based his theory on viewing bacteria or viruses as effects, not causes of disease. Administering an herb to a patient will cause the immune system to become very stimulated and overcome the disease.

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