complémentaire santé involves non-mainstream approaches such as omega-3 supplements, acupuncture and massage alongside conventional health treatments. These include practices that promote good nutrition, exercise, spiritual growth and healthy relationships, and may help patients cope with illness and stress. They can also encourage patients to take more control of their own health through lifestyle choices.
The use of complementary therapies in combination with traditional healthcare is a growing trend. Millions of Americans use these treatments, often alongside prescribed medication. However, it is important to remember that the evidence behind many of these therapies is limited. Some can have dangerous side effects if taken in the wrong dosage. For this reason, it is crucial to choose your practitioners (such as an acupuncturist) as carefully as you would your healthcare providers.
There are two broad areas that capture most of the complementary therapies available – natural products and mind and body practices. The latter includes approaches such as yoga, tai chi and acupuncture. Research on mind and body practices is less extensive than for some other complementary approaches, but there has been progress in recent years.
Apart from osteopaths and chiropractors, most complementary practitioners are not required to join a professional register before setting up in practice. However, those who do register usually belong to a professional organisation that establishes codes of conduct, complaints procedures and disciplinary sanctions for its members. The number of registering organisations varies, with some disciplines having between 50 and 300 different governing bodies with varying membership criteria and standards.