Complementary vs. Alternative Medicine
With Timothy Sobo, LAc
A very important factor in health care is distinguishing between the terms “complementary” and “alternative” medicine (CAM). While this distinction may sound like arguing semantics it is far more than that.
Alternative gives the implication of a choice between two mutually exclusive possibilities. Alternative medicine, at times, is promoted instead of the mainstream treatment for injuries or any other serious illness. The “us” vs. “them” mentality of alternative medicine and mainstream medicine has a negative effect on the patient who could benefit from both.
Complementary is working together and completing a greater picture, supplementing mutual needs and/or offsetting mutual lacks. Complementary medicine means working with the mainstream, becoming part of the mainstream, and providing care for the patient. It is here, in a complementary role, that acupuncture is important and shows its great strength.
As a health care professionals, we must use the term complementary medicine instead of alternative medicine. With the end goal of dropping the term complementary all together and just having medicine.