Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) encompasses non-conventional approaches to healing beyond traditional medicine.
Complementary medicine and alternative medicine are two different approaches.
Complementary medicine is any form of therapy used in combination with other alternative treatments or standard/conventional medicine. Complementary therapy usually serves to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
Alternative medicine is used alone without recommended standard treatment.
Integrative therapy combines conventional medicine and complementary and alternative medicine. Some scientific evidence shows integrative therapy to be safe and beneficial.
Some people use complementary treatments to relieve symptoms or side effects while undergoing standard/conventional treatment (such as pain relief during cancer treatment). Standard/conventional medicine refers to medical treatments that have been scientifically tested and found to be safe and effective. The standard/conventional treatments have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Other people may decide to pursue either complementary or alternative therapy. It is highly recommended that you consult your physician before beginning any treatment regime, as these treatments are not scientifically tested or proven.