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Complimentary vs. Alternative vs. Integrated

Posted Jun 02 2008 5:03pm 3 Comments

I got into a discussion recently as to whether chiropractic should be considered complimentary or alternative medicine. The April 25, 2008 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study entitled “Do Chiropractors Identify with Complementary and Alternative Medicine? Results of a Survey”. Their findings were that the majority (69%) of the chiropractors in the sample rejected being characterized as CAM practitioners, showing some preference for the term integrated medicine (27%).

I suppose when a chiropractor is evidence-based and thrives to work within the medical model, the term ‘alternative’ might not apply. When I send a patient to his primary care physician to get medication during a course of chiropractic treatment, that is certainly not an alternative to medical care. It is complimentary to what the MD might prescribe. Is it integrated? Not yet for me. If I were practicing in a hospital setting or some multi-disciplinary setting, I might be more comfortable with the term “integrated.” For now, I’ll settle for complementary.

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Personally, I favor the term natural medicine. It feels like splitting hairs to go through all the iterations of complementary versus integrative versus alternative versus holistic, etc. etc. Natural is the one thing they have in common and that makes them different from MDs. I'm into natural medicine... I don't care how else it's classified!

 BTW, I'm certain that chiropractic is not "complimentary" - that would mean it was free, compliments of one very generous chiro. ;-)

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