Blending conventional and alternative care

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The words "complementary" and "alternative" care are sometimes used together, but there are some key differences between them.

hand massageAlternative care is used in place of conventional medicine.

Complementary care is used along with conventional medicine.

When you use complementary care, you may be getting treatment from your doctor and using alternative therapies to manage the same condition.

Examples of complementary care may include:

  • using guided imagery to help with recovery after surgery
  • combining acupressure and medication to relieve migraines
  • drinking ginger tea to reduce nausea during chemotherapy

Be sure to let your doctor know about any alternative therapies you are using. Some may be unsafe or interact with your traditional medical treatments.

Reviewed by: Paul Millea, MD, October, 2015

© 2015 Kaiser Permanente

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