Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Complementary therapies are used along with regular medical treatments. Alternative therapies are used in place of regular medical treatments. Together they are called Complementary and Alternative medicine (CAM). A number of CAM therapies are thought to treat the body and the mind.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Common CAM Therapies –

  • Acupuncture
  • Breathing exercises
  • Chinese Medicine
  • Chiropractic Therapy
  • Dietary (eg. Vitamins)
  • Herbal Therapy
  • Homeopathy
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Imagery & Meditation
  • Massage
  • Naturopathy
  • Reflexology
  • Therapeutic Touch
  • Yoga


Things to Consider:

  • Make sure your medical doctor and CAM therapist know about all therapies being used.
  • Do not stop regular medicine before talking with your doctor.
  • Work with a qualified CAM therapist.
  • Learn as much as you can about any therapy you might use. Get information from different sources.
  • Look for proven facts and not just people’s opinions.
  • Consider the quality of the product.
  • Consider the time, cost and effort required to use the therapy.
  • Keep a diary to record any changes after starting the therapy.

Questions To Ask:

  • About the therapy: Is it governed by a regulatory organization?
  • About the therapist: Are they licensed? Do they work with children?
  • About the treatment: How is it taken? How long will it take to work? How will you know if it is working? How long must it be used? What are the risks and benefits?
  • About the product: Was it made by a reliable company? What is in it?


Use Caution:

  • Do not rely on Alternative methods to diagnose asthma or allergies.
  • Be careful about claims made for any therapy. There is no proven cure or good CAM treatment for asthma or allergies at this time.
  • A natural product is not always a safe product. Side effects can occur as they can with regular medicines (e.g. allergic reactions).
  • Some products can be harmful when used with other medicines, therapies, foods or alcohol.
  • A Natural Product Number (NPH) or Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM) on the label means a product is safe according to Health Canada.
  • Take care with children. Their bodies may handle a therapy differently than an adult.
  • Make sure there is a good reason to remove foods from a child’s diet. Good nutrition is needed to grow.
  • Be very careful if you have a food allergy. Know what the therapy contains.
  • Report any concerns about a therapy back to your doctor or therapist.


How Do I Learn More About CAM Therapies?

  • Ask lots of questions. Talk to your health care provider, asthma or allergy educator, pharmacist and CAM therapist.
  • Information can be found in books, magazines and on the internet. It is not always good information. Make sure to get your information from reliable places.

Some good websites are listed below.

National Institutes of Health – www.nccam.nin.gov