Alternative medicine is the practice of treating or managing disease and wellness without the use of conventional medicine. Alternative medicine practices are diverse in their foundations, methods, and goals. Examples include traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda in Asia, homeopathy in Europe, and naturopathy in North America.
Alternative medicine is a catch-all term for any medical practice that doesn’t fall into the category of conventional medicine. It’s also known as complementary or integrative medicine.
The word alternative means “in place of,” so alternative medicine is any kind of treatment or therapy that people use instead of conventional medicine. It includes things like acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal remedies, and chiropractic adjustments.
Alternative therapies are often used together with conventional medicine in an attempt to treat specific conditions or diseases. For example, someone who suffers from chronic pain might use both conventional and alternative treatments—a prescription drug to manage the pain and an herbal remedy to reduce inflammation.