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Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s In a Name?

Complementary Versus

If a non-mainstream practice is used together with conventional medicine, it’s considered “complementary” .
If a non-mainstream practice is used in place of conventional medicine, it’s considered “alternative.”
Integrative Medicine:
There are many definitions of “integrative” health care, but all involve bringing conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way.
Complementary Health Approaches:
Natural Products
This group includes a variety of products, such as herbs (also known as botanicals), vitamins and minerals, and probiotics. They are widely marketed, readily available to consumers, and often sold as dietary supplements.
Mind and Body Practices
Mind and body practices include a large and diverse group of procedures or techniques administered or taught by a trained practitioner or teacher.Yoga, chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation, meditation, and massage therapy are among the most popular mind and body practices used by adults. Other mind and body practices include acupuncture, relaxation techniques (such as breathing exercises, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation), tai chi, gi qong, healing touch, hypnotherapy, and movement therapies (such as Feldenkrais method, Alexander technique, Pilates, Rolfing Structural Integration, and Trager psychophysical integration).
Other Complementary Health Approaches
The two broad areas discussed above—natural products and mind and body practices—capture most complementary health approaches. However, some approaches may not neatly fit into either of these groups—for example, the practices of traditional healers, Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, and naturopathy.

Are You Considering a Complementary Health Approach?

Take Charge of Your Health
Be an informed consumer. Find out and consider what scientific studies have been done on the safety and effectiveness of any health approach that is recommended to or interests you.
Discuss the information and your interests with your health care providers before making a decision.
Choose a complementary health practitioner, such as an acupuncturist, as carefully as you would choose a conventional health care provider.
Before using any dietary supplement or herbal product, make sure you find out about potential side effects or interactions with medications you may be taking.
Only use treatments for your condition that have been proven safe. Do not use a product or practice that has not been proven to be effective to postpone seeing your health care provider for your condition.
Tell all your health care providers—complementary and conventional—about all the health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
How can I get reliable information about a complementary health approach? It's important to learn what scientific studies have discovered about the complementary health approach you're considering, because evidence from research studies is stronger and more reliable than something you've seen in an advertisement or on a web site or because people have told you that it worked for them.
Understanding a product's or practice's potential benefits, risks, and scientific evidence is critical to your health and safety. Scientific research on many complementary health approaches is relatively new, so this kind of information may not be available for each one. However, many studies are under way, including those that NCCIH supports, and knowledge and understanding of complementary approaches are increasing all the time.
Here are some ways to find reliable information:
Talk with your health care providers. Tell them about the complementary health approach you're considering and ask any questions you may have about safety, effectiveness, or interactions with medications (prescription or nonprescription) or dietary supplements.
Visit the NCCIH Web site (nccih.nih.gov).
Visit your local library or a medical library. Ask the reference librarian to help you find scientific journals and trustworthy books with information on the product or practice that interests you.
Are complementary health approaches safe?
As with any medical product or treatment, there can be risks with complementary approaches. These risks depend on the specific product or practice. Each needs to be considered on its own. However, if you're considering a specific product or practice, the following general suggestions can help you think about safety and minimize risks.
Be aware that individuals respond differently to health products and practices, whether conventional or complementary. How you might respond to one depends on many things, including your state of health, how you use it, or your belief in it.
Keep in mind that “natural” does not necessarily mean “safe.” (Think of mushrooms that grow in the wild: some are safe to eat, while others are not.)
Learn about factors that affect safety. For a practice that is administered by a practitioner, such as chiropractic, these factors include the training, skill, and experience of the practitioner. For a product such as a dietary supplement, the specific ingredients and the quality of the manufacturing process are important factors.
If you decide to use a practice provided by a complementary health practitioner, choose the practitioner as carefully as you would your primary health care provider.
If you decide to use a dietary supplement, such as an herbal product, be aware that some products may interact in harmful ways with medications (prescription or over-the-counter) or other dietary supplements, and some may have side effects on their own.
Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
How can I determine whether statements made about the effectiveness of a complementary health approach are true? Before you begin using a complementary health approach, it’s a good idea to ask the following questions:
Is there scientific evidence (not just personal stories) to back up the statements?
What is the source? Statements that manufacturers or other promoters of some complementary health approaches may make about effectiveness and benefits can sound reasonable and promising. However, the statements may be based on a biased view of the available scientific evidence.
Does the Federal Government have anything to report about the product or practice?
Visit the NCCIH Web site or contact the NCCIH Clearinghouse to see if NCCIH has information about the product or practice.
Visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) online at www.fda.gov/ to see if there is any information available about the product or practice.
Information specifically about dietary supplements can be found on the FDA’s Web site at www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/ and on the Web site of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements at ods.od.nih.gov/.
Visit the FDA's Web page on recalls and safety alerts at www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/. The FDA has a rapid public notification system to provide information about tainted dietary supplements. See www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/ContactFDA/StayInformed/RSSFeeds/TDS/rss.xml.
Check with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov to see if there are any enforcement actions for deceptive advertising regarding the therapy. Also, visit the site’s Consumer Information section at www.consumer.ftc.gov
How does the provider or manufacturer describe the approach?
Beware of terms like “scientific breakthrough,” “miracle cure,” “secret ingredient,” or “ancient remedy.”
If you encounter claims of a “quick fix” that depart from previous research, keep in mind that science usually advances over time by small steps, slowly building an evidence base.
Remember: if it sounds too good to be true—for example, claims that a product or practice can cure a disease or works for a variety of ailments—it usually is.
Is That Health Web Site Trustworthy?
If you're visiting a health Web site for the first time, these five quick questions can help you decide whether the site is a helpful resource.
Who? Who runs the Web site? Can you trust them?
What? What does the site say? Do its claims seem to good to be true?
When? When was the information posted or reviewed? Is it up-to-date?
Where? Where did the information come from? Is it based on scientific research?
Why? Why does the site exist? Is it selling something?
In April 2011, the Federal Trade Commission warned the public about fake online news sites promoting an acai berry weight-loss product. For example, one described an investigation in which a reporter used the product for several weeks, with “dramatic” results. The site looked real, but it was actually an advertisement. Everything was fake: there was no reporter, no news organization, and no investigation. The only real things were the links to a sales site that appeared in the story and elsewhere on the Web page. Similar fake news sites have promoted other products, including work-at-home opportunities and debt reduction plans.
You should suspect that a news site may be fake if it:

  • Endorses a product. Real news organizations generally don’t do this.
  • Only quotes people who say good things about the product.
  • Presents research findings that seem too good to be true or fail to point out any limitations in research. (If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.)
  • Contains links to a sales site.
  • Includes positive reader comments only, and you can’t add a comment of your own.

How To Protect Yourself
If you suspect that a news site might be fake, look for a disclaimer somewhere on the page (often in small print) that indicates that the site is an advertisement. Also, don't rely on Internet news reports when making important decisions about your health. If you're considering a health product described in the news, discuss it with your health care provider. For help in making sense of news stories about complementary health approaches, see NCCIH's Understanding Health News.
Are complementary health approaches tested to see if they work?
While scientific evidence now exists regarding the effectiveness and safety of some complementary health approaches, there remain many yet-to-be-answered questions about whether others are safe, whether they work for the diseases or medical conditions for which they are promoted, and how those approaches with health benefits may work. As the Federal Government’s lead agency for scientific research on health interventions, practices, products, and disciplines that originate from outside mainstream medicine, NCCIH supports scientific research to answer these questions and determine who might benefit most from the use of specific approaches.
How do I go about selecting a practitioner?
Your primary health care provider or local hospital may be able to recommend a complementary health practitioner.
The professional organization for the type of practitioner you’re seeking may have helpful information, such as licensing and training requirements. Many states have regulatory agencies or licensing boards for certain types of complementary health practitioners; they may be able to help you locate practitioners in your area.
Make sure any practitioner you’re considering is willing to work in collaboration with your other health care providers.
Source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
National Institutes of Health

DRUG

NUTRIENT DEFICIENCY

DEFICIENCY POTENTIAL HEALTH PROBLEM

ANTACIDS/ULCER MEDICATIONS
Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac, Prevacid,
Prilosec, Magnesium & Aluminum
antacids
Vitamin B12
Folic Acid
Vitamin D
Calcium
Iron
Zinc
Anemia, depression, tiredness, weakness, increased cardiovascular risk
Birth defects, cervical dysplasia, anemia, heart disease, cancer risk
Osteoporosis, heart and blood pressure irregularities, tooth decay
Anemia, weakness, fatique, hair loss, brittle nails
Weak immunity, wound healing, sense of smell/taste, sexual dysfunction
ANTIBIOTICS
Gentamycin, neomycin, streptomycin,
cephalosporins, penicillins

Tetracyclines
B Vitamins
Vitamin K



Calcium
Magnesium
Iron
Vitamin B6
Zinc
Short term depletion effects are minimal, but failure to re-inoculate the
GI tract with beneficial bacteria (probiotics) often results in dysbiosis which
causes gas, bloating, decreases digestion & absorption of nutrients, and may
also lead to a variety of other health problems.

Osteoporosis, heart & blood pressure irregularities, tooth decay
Cardiovascular problems, asthma, osteoporosis, cramps, PMS
Slow wound healing, fatigue, anemia
Depression, sleep disturbances, increased cardiovascular disease risk
Weak immunity, wound healing, sense of smell/taste, sexual dysfunction
CHOLESTEROL DRUGS
Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor and others
Coenzyme Q10 Various cardivascular problems, weak immune system, low energy
ANTI-DEPRESSANTS
Adapin, Aventyl, Elavil, Pamelor, & others
Major Tranquilizers (Thorazine,
Mellaril, Prolixin, Serentil & others)
Coenzyme Q10
Vitamin B2
Various cardiovascular problems, weak immune system, low energy
Problems with skin, eyes, mucous membranes and nerves
FEMALE HORMONES
Oral Estrogen/Hormone Replacement
Oral Contraceptives
Vitamin B6

Folic Acid
Vitamin B1
Vitamin B2
Vitamin B3
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B12
Vitamin C
Magnesium
Selenium
Zinc
Depression, sleep disturbance, increased cardiovascular disease risk

Birth defects, cervical dysplasia, anemia, cardiovascular disease
Depression, irritability, memory loss, muscle weakness, edema
Problems with skin, eyes, mucous membranes and nerves
Cracked, scaly skin, swollen tongue, diarrhea
Depression, sleep disturbances, increased cardiovascular disease risk
Anemia, depression, tiredness, weakness, increased cardiovascular risk
Lowered immune system, easy bruising, poor wound healing
Cardiovascular problems, asthma, osteoporosis, cramps, PMS
Lower immunity, reduced antioxidant protection
Weak immunity, wound healing, sense of smell/taste, sexual dysfunction
ANTICONVULSANTS
Phenobarbital & barbituates
Dilatin, Tegretol, Mysoline
Depaka ne/Depa con
Vitamin D
Calcium
Folic Acid
Biotin
Carnitine
Vitamin B12
Vitamin B1
Vitamin K
Copper
Selenium
Zinc
Osteoporosis, muscle weakness, hearing loss
Osteoporosis, heart & blood pressure irregularities, tooth decay
Birth defects, cervical dysplasia, anemia, cardiovascular disease
Hair loss, depression, cardiac irregularities, dermatitis
Various cardiovascular problems, weak immune system, low energy
Anemia, depression, tiredness, weakness, increased cardiovascular risk
Depression, irritability, memory loss, muscle weakness, edema
Blood coagulation, skeletal problems
Anemia, fatigue, cardiovascular and connective tissue problems
Lower immunity, reduced antioxidant protection
Weak immunity, wound healing, sense of smell/taste, sexual dysfunction
ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES
Corticosteriods: Prednisone, Medrol,
Aristocort, Decodron








NSAIDS (Motrin, Aleve, Advil, Anaprox,
Dolobid, Feldene, Naprosyn and others

Aspirin & Salicylates
Calcium
Vitamin D
Magnesium
Zinc
Vitamin C
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B12
Folic Acid
Selenium
Chromium

Folic Acid


Vitamin C
Calcium
Folic Acid
Iron
Vitamin B5
Osteoporosis, heart and blood pressure irregularities, tooth decay
Osteoporosis, muscle weakness, hearing loss
Cardiovascular problems, asthma, osteoporosis, cramps, PMS
Weak immunity, wound healing, sense of smell/taste, sexual dysfunction
Lowered immunity, easy bruising, poor wound healing
Depression, sleep disturbances, increased cardiovascular disease risk
Anemia, depression, tiredness, weakness, increased cardiovascular risk
Birth defects, cervical dysplasia, anemia, cardiovascular disease
Lower immunity, reduced antioxidant protection
Elevated blood sugar, cholesterol & triglycerides, diabetes risk

Birth defects, cervical dysplasia, anemia, cardiovascular disease


Lowered immune system, easy bruising, poor wound healing
Osteoporosis, heart & blood pressure irregularities, tooth decay
Birth defects, cervical dysplasia, anemia, cardiovascular disease
Anemia, weakness, fatigue, hair loss, brittle nails
fatigue, listlessness, and possible problems with skin, liver and nerves
DIURETICS
Loop Diuretics (Lasix, Bumex,
Edecrin)
Thiazid Diuretics (HCTZ, Enduron,
Diuril, Lozol, Zaroxolyn, Hygroton
and others




Potassium Sparing Diuretics
Calcium
Magnesium
Vitamin B1
Vitamin B6
Vitamin C
Zinc
Coenzyme Q10
Potassium
Sodium

Calcium
Folic Acid
Zinc
Osteoporosis, heart & blood pressure irregularities, tooth decay
Cardiovascular problems, asthma, osteoporosis, cramps, PMS
Depression, irritability, memory loss, muscle weakness, edema
Depression, sleep disturbance, increased heart disease risk
Lowered immunity, easy bruising, poor wound healing
Weak immunity, wound healing, sense of smell/taste, sexual dysfunction
Various cardiovascular problems, weak immune system, low energy
Irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness, fatigue, edema
Muscle weakness, dehydration, memory problems, loss of appetite

Osteoporosis, heart & blood pressure irregularities, tooth decay
Birth defects, cervical dysplasia, anemia, cardiovascular disease
Weak immunity, wound healing, sense of smell/taste, sexual dysfunction
CARDIOVASCULAR DRUGS
Antihypertensives (Catapres,
Aldomet)


ACE Inhibitors (Capoten, Vasotec,
Monopril & others)

Bete Blockers (Inderal, Corgard,
Lopressor and others)
Coenzyme Q10
Vitamin B6
Zinc
Vitamin B1

Zinc


Coenzyme Q10
Various cardiovascular problems, weak immune system, low energy
Depression, sleep disturbance, increased cardiovascular disease risk
Weak immunity, wound healing, sense of smell/taste, sexual dysfunction
Depression, irritability, memory loss, muscle weakness, edema

Weak immunity, wound healing, sense of smell/taste, sexual dysfunction


Various cardiovascular problems, weak immune system, low energy
DIABETIC DRUGS
Metformin
Sulfonylureas (Dymelor, Tolinase,
Micronase/Glynase/DiaBeta)
Coenzyme Q10
Vitamin B12 Folic Acid Coenzyme Q10
Various cardiovascular problems, weak immune system, low energy Anemia, depression, tiredness, weakness, increased cardiovascular risk Birth defects, cervical dysplasia, anemia, heart disease, cancer risk Various cardiovascular problems, weak immune system, low energy
ANTIVIRAL AGENTS
Zidovudine (Retrovir, AZT &
other related drugs)

Foscarnet
Carnitine
Copper
Zinc
Vitamin B12
Calcium
Magnesium
Potassium
Increased blood lipids, abnormal liver function and glucose control
Anemia, fatigue, cardiovascular and connective tissue problems
Weak immunity, wound healing, sense of smell/taste, sexual dysfunction
Anemia, depression, tiredness, weakness, increased cardiovascular risk
Osteoporosis, heart and blood pressure irregularities, tooth decay
Cardiovascular problems, asthma, osteoporosis, cramps, PMS
Irregular heartbeat mugcleweaknp e c tfatigue,edema

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DISCLAIMER

The information in Caredir® site is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.Copyright © 2015 Caredir®. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited.

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