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Complementary and alternative medicine 

Complementary and alternative medicine
Chapter:
Complementary and alternative medicine
Author(s):

Edzard Ernst

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198746690.003.0028
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date: 03 March 2021

Complementary and alternative medicine can be defined as diagnosis, treatment, and/or prevention which complements mainstream medicine by contributing to a common whole, by satisfying a demand not met by orthodoxy, or by diversifying the conceptual frameworks of medicine. It is popular; hence doctors should know about it. The term covers a vast array of treatments and diagnostic techniques which have little in common except that they are not part of mainstream medicine. The most important modalities are acupuncture, phytotherapy, homeopathy, and spinal manipulation. In industrialized countries, typical users of complementary and alternative medicine are middle-aged, female, well-educated members of a high socioeconomic class. Indications range from chronic benign conditions where mainstream medicine does not offer a cure (e.g. back pain) to life-threatening diseases like cancer and AIDS.

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