We’ve all seen the words “complementary,” “alternative,” and “integrative,” but what do they really mean?

he following information has been adapted from National Center for Complementary
and Integrative Health (NCCIH) website: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/complementary-alternative-or-integrative-health-whats-
Introduction to Complimentary & Integrative Health
We’ve all seen the words “complementary,” “alternative,” and “integrative,” but what do
they really mean? The terms “complementary,” “alternative,” and “integrative” are
continually evolving, along with the field, but the descriiptions of these terms below are
how we at National Institutes of Health (NIH) currently define them.
Complementary Versus Alternative
According to a 2012 national survey, many Americans—more than 30 percent of adults
and about 12 percent of children—use health care approaches that are not typically part
of conventional medical care or that may have origins outside of usual Western practice.
When describing these approaches, people often use “alternative” and “complementary”
interchangeably, but the two terms refer to different concepts:
 If a non-mainstream practice is used together with conventional medicine, it’s
considered “complementary.”
 If a non-mainstream practice is used in place of conventional medicine, it’s
considered “alternative.” Most people who use non-mainstream approaches also use conventional health care.
Integrative Health
Integrative health care often brings conventional and complementary approaches
together in a coordinated way. It emphasizes a holistic, patient-focused approach to
health care and wellness—often including mental, emotional, functional, spiritual, social,
and community aspects—and treating the whole person rather than, for example, one
organ system. It aims for well-coordinated care between different providers and
Types of Complementary Health Approaches: Natural Products
This group includes a variety of products, such as herbs (also known as botanicals), vitamins and minerals, and probiotics. They are widely marketed, readily available to
consumers, and often sold as dietary supplements. According to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which included a
comprehensive survey on the use of complementary health approaches by Americans,
17.7 percent of American adults had used a dietary supplement other than vitamins and
minerals in the past year.
Mind and Body Practices
Mind and body practices include a large and diverse group of procedures or techniques
administered or taught by a trained practitioner or teacher. According to the 2017 NHIS,
the popularity of yoga has grown dramatically in recent years, from 9.5 percent of U.S.
adults practicing yoga in 2012 to 14.3 percent in 2017. The 2017 NHIS also showed that
the use of meditation increased more than threefold from 4.1 percent in 2012 to 14.2
percent in 2017. Other mind and body practices include acupuncture, relaxation
techniques (such as breathing exercises, guided imagery, and progressive muscle
relaxation), tai chi, qi gong, hypnotherapy, Feldenkrais method, Alexander technique,
Pilates, Rolfing Structural Integration, and Trager psychophysical integration.
Because of the size of this class, each group will provide a recorded presentation
that will be submitted to the virtual forum for the same. Each student will also
submit peer evaluations under an assignment tab related to the project.
Grading Rubric for Presentation
Each presentation will address all of the following:
 Background, History, Cultural Aspects – 20%
 What can/is it used to treat? – 20%
 What does the evidence say about its effectiveness & safety? – 30% (Cites at
least 5 research articles)
 Specific patient teaching needs – 10%
 Professional Presentation (grammatically correct, free of typos, Correct APA for
reference list, all group members participate in presentation, etc.) – 10%
 Peer evaluation – 10%

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