What Are the Different Types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine?

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  • Written By: Brandon May
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2019
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There are many different types of complementary and alternative medicine treatments that work alongside proper medical advice, and many of these treatments do show promise in alleviating stress in some people. These types of treatments can range from hypnotherapy to herbal medicine, as well as reflexology, massage therapy and holistic nutritional counseling. Other types of complementary and alternative medicine techniques are meditation and emotional freedom technique, designed to relax the body and calm the mind during stressful situations. Since stress can actually decrease the immune system and lead to slower healing, some doctors may recommend these types of complementary and alternative medicine approaches to patients alongside medical procedures or medications.

Meditation is one of the most common types of complementary approaches to conventional medicine, as some illnesses or diseases do correspond to elevated levels of stress in the body. Often, meditation will involve closing the eyes and simply relaxing the body; however, there are some meditation teachers that do guide patients into more advanced forms of meditation. Hypnotherapy is a recognized form of a complementary approach that has been shown to reduce pain in some individuals and induce deeper levels of confidence and relaxation in a patient. Many doctors may refer a patient to a psychiatrist or psychologist for hypnosis or to a practicing hypnotherapist.


Among all the types of complementary and alternative medicine approaches used for combating physical tension, massage therapy may be the most popular method. Reflexology is a type of massage therapy that works on different places of the feet, which are said to correspond to certain locations in the body. Although using reflexology has not been scientifically shown to reduce ailments throughout the body by massaging certain areas of the feet, it is effective at reducing stress levels. Acupuncture is a related form of reflexology, yet instead of focusing mainly on the feet, the entire body is used during the practice.

Emotional freedom technique is a type of acupuncture used in alternative medicine that combines positive thinking with affirmations, and uses tapping of the fingers on different areas of the face, neck and shoulders. Since nutrition can play a role in some illnesses and disease, many doctors recommend seeking nutritional counseling by a dietician as a healthy complementary approach to medicine. Many of these techniques can be helpful in some disorders that require a healthy immune system, as stress can play a role in decreasing immune function. With a decreased immune function, healing may become slowed in many people.


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