By Bianca Beldini

Traditional, complementary, alternative. These three words can be a welcome relief to some and confusing and scary to others.  In the health crisis that this world is in today – from an alarming rate of obesity to confounding cancer clusters – it is no wonder these “other” types of medicines are making their way back into the mainstream.  But what, exactly, do these terms mean and how should these healing practices be utilized?

Understanding the terminology.

Traditional stands for medicine that is rooted in any particular culture’s beliefs of health and the prevention of illness. Eastern traditions like Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine both or which have their lineage rooted in a 5,000-year-old system, (one of the oldest traditional medicines on record,) as well as Western medicines like antibiotics are considered “traditional.”

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Complimentary medicine uses a non-conventional therapy alongside a traditional treatment. For example, using Aromatherapy as an adjunct to chemotherapy to help lessen the effects of nausea.

Alternative medicine refers to using a non-orthodox medical approach to treating a disease or condition instead of a Western therapy.

What you need to know.

Do your research. Make sure your practitioner has had adequate training in his or her specialty.

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Beware of quality. If you are taking supplements, be aware that store-bought brands could be less therapeutic and more toxic (especially if they have fillers, dyes or chemical preservatives: steer clear).

Keep expectations in check. One session, one sip of an herbal tea or one experience may not erase your complaints and shouldn’t define your experience.

Take it personally. Not all practices are right for all people. Keep seeking until you find the right fit. The medicine of today is an intricate updated web of multiple mind-body-spirit approaches to living.  Don’t be afraid to explore.

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