for Veterans and the Public
Alternative Therapies: Overview
Many people use alternative (sometimes known as complementary) health treatments to go along with the medical care they get from their doctor.
These therapies are sometimes called "alternative" because they don't fit into the more mainstream, Western ways of looking at medicine and health care. These therapies may not fit in with what you usually think of as "health care."
They are called "complementary" therapies because usually they are used alongside the more standard medical care you receive (such as your VA doctor visits and the anti-HIV drugs you might be taking).
Some common complementary therapies include:
- Physical (body) therapies, such as yoga, massage, and acupuncture
- Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and visualization
- Herbal medicine (from plants)
With most complementary therapies, your health is looked at from a holistic (or "whole picture") point of view. Think of your body as working as one big system. From a holistic viewpoint, everything you do--from what you eat to what you drink to how stressed you are--affects your health and well-being.