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The Common Types of Alternative Medicine

  blog post author icon   blog post published date icon   10/21/21

What are the benefits of alternative medicine, and why should you try it? The term CAM stands for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and refers to any medicine or therapy outside standard, mainstream medical care.

This guide provides an overview of different types of alternative medicine.

practitioner preparing for acupuncture on a woman's neck

The Common Types of Alternative Medicine

  blog post author icon   blog post published date icon   10/21/21

What are the benefits of alternative medicine, and why should you try it? The term CAM stands for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and refers to any medicine or therapy outside standard, mainstream medical care.

This guide provides an overview of different types of alternative medicine.

A third of Americans use some type of alternative medicine, the majority of these doing so as a complement to their conventional health care. What does this term refer to, and how can you incorporate alternative medicine into your lifestyle?

What Is Alternative Medicine?

It essentially refers to the types of therapies you won't find in your doctor's office. Alternative medicine tends to be more natural and holistic than the medical care and medication you'll get prescribed by your doctor.

The term encompasses a whole host of different practices, from traditional alternative medicine to homeopathy, energy healing, and massage. There's no one set path when it comes to using alternative medicine options.

If you decide to try alternative medicine, you can choose one variation or combine different practices.

Traditional Alternative Medicine

These ancient practices passed down through generations of ancient cultures are all pretty well-accepted versions of complementary medicine. Traditional medicine types include: 

Traditional Chinese Medicine

The principles of Chinese medicine lay in the idea that the Yin and Yang energies in the body need to be in balance. Chinese medicine can include the prescription of different herbal remedies.


Another element of Traditional Chinese Medicine; during acupuncture, fine needles are stuck into pressure points on the body to release tension.

The human body has more than 2,000 pressure points connected by pathways called meridians. When the pressure points become activated with the needles, they can release pain-relieving chemicals.

Acupuncture can help relieve headaches and migraines, and other ailments related to pressure build-up in the body. It can also help reduce conditions like back pain, nausea, and anxiety.


Ayurvedic medicine started in India over 3,000 years ago and is still in use across the world today. Ayurvedic medicine works by eating a specific diet that's aligned to your body's constitution.

It also includes taking different types of herbal remedies and completing different physical practices. Ayurveda sees the mind and body as one.

The physical practices recommended by Ayurveda include meditation, cleansing (for example, nasal cleansing with a neti pot), yoga, and ayurvedic massage.


This practice involves the use of highly diluted natural substances to treat physical and mental ailments. 

The evidence about the effectiveness of homeopathic medicine is still very inconclusive. Many doctors still claim that people who say homeopathic medicine heals them are simply feeling a placebo effect.


Another form of alternative treatment is based on naturally derived medicines to heal patients. If you visit a naturopath, they will prescribe a selection of alternative therapies to help you with your health problems.

A naturopath could look at your diet and advise how to improve it or recommend reflexology, massage, or a selection of herbal medicines.

Types of Alternative Medicine Involving Touch

Healing the body has long been associated with practices that involve physical touch. Some of the most common techniques are: 


Massage is a well-known and accepted treatment for helping relieve physical pain. Receiving a massage helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety as your body enters the 'rest and digest' state.

There is a huge variety of massage styles, from Indian head massages to Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, Shiatsu, aromatherapy massage, and more.

Many people find regular massages can help alleviate symptoms from a sedentary lifestyle, such as tight shoulders, neck, lower back, and hamstrings.


Not dissimilar to massage, this treatment focuses on your hands and feet. The idea is that every part of each hand and foot is connected to a specific amount of your body.

Having reflexology can help relieve specific pain in certain parts of your body, help you relax, and improve your sleep.

Chiropractic Therapy

A healing therapy for the spine and back. A chiropractor will typically adjust the arrangement of the joints in your spine to improve your overall mobility.

The aim of this spinal manipulation is to ease pain and improve all the functions in the body.


Another traditional activity that humans have practiced for thousands of years. Yoga is thought to unlock energy blockages, help you become calmer and more relaxed, more focused, present, and energized.

Regular yoga practice can help with an array of ailments. From helping improve your mental health to strengthening your muscles and improving your flexibility.

Energetic Therapies

Some natural therapies involve the energetic healing of the body. When the energy in your body becomes misaligned, it may cause poor health. Energetic healing practices include: 


A traditional Japanese therapy, Reiki is an energy healing practice. When you have a Reiki session, no physical touch takes place by the practitioner. They hold their hands over your body to help shift the energy to balance it.

Emotional and Mental Healing

Last but not least are the emotional and mental aspects of our wellbeing. You can't have a healthy body without a healthy mind. Typical alternative therapies for mental wellbeing include:


When you have a hypnotherapy session, you are put into a deep state of relaxation to help you access subconscious beliefs.

It's a way for you to let go of thoughts or habits that may inhibit your lifestyle and wellbeing.


A time to relax, try and put your mind at ease, meditation has a host of benefits for your mental wellbeing. Being aware of your breathing and your body are both methods for successful meditation.

Your Alternative Medicine Journey

Now that you have an overview about different types of alternative medicine, you can continue researching and learning more about any area of interest to you.

Regardless of whether you consider incorporating any form of alternative medicine into your lifestyle, take care of yourself by eating more whole, natural foods, getting reasonable exercise, proper rest, and minimizing recurring negative stress.

headshot of Jay Todtenbier 2018

Jay Todtenbier is an original founder of in 2010 and has operated the business ever since. He is also a tennis instructor and gospel musician. Formerly he spent 25 years in business development, technology and marketing with startups and major corporations having gone through the tech boom in Silicon Valley in the 90s. He became passionate about, and began studying and practicing Wellness as a Lifestyle after experiencing chronic, personal health challenges including depression, auto-immune disorders, and being overweight that impacted his ability to live a healthy, vibrant life. Since then, he has been an advocate for healthier living encouraging others to live better through making small, gradual changes to lifestyle behaviors relating to whole-foods nutrition, stress management, reasonable exercise, proper sleep, and the use of targeted, high-quality supplements.

Learn more about Jay Todtenbier.

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