Complementary therapies include a variety of practices and treatments usually outside of evidence-based, conventional medicine. They might be described as 'alternative', 'traditional' or 'holistic' therapies.
Complementary therapies may be used alongside conventional medical treatments from your doctor or healthcare provider. This may be helpful for some conditions, especially when there is evidence to support the use of complementary therapies. Your doctor is best placed to advise you on where complementary therapies may help.
Alternative therapies can mean treatments that are used in place of conventional treatment from your doctor or healthcare provider. This can be harmful where there is no evidence for these therapies, or if they have side effects. Delaying conventional medical care can also cause harm.
Complementary therapies have become increasingly popular in Australia, not only to improve wellbeing but to deal with illness. Around 2 out of 3 people with cancer use some sort of complementary therapy during or after their treatment.
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Last reviewed: September 2017