Alternative medicine is the term for medical products and practices that are not part of standard care. Standard care is what medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, and allied health professionals, such as nurses and physical therapists practice. Alternative medicine is used in place of standard medical care. An example is treating heart disease with chelation therapy (which seeks to remove excess metals from the blood) instead of using a standard approach. Examples of alternative practices include TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), homeopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture.
Complementary medicine (CAM) focuses on the whole person and includes physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. For example, CAM includes mind-body medicine (such as meditation, acupuncture and yoga), manipulative and body-based practices (such as massage therapy and spinal manipulation), and natural products (such as herbs and dietary supplements).
Alternative and Complementary Medicine are the popular terms for health and wellness therapies that have typically not been part of conventional Western medicine. Complementary means treatments that are used along with conventional medicine. Alternative means treatments used in place of conventional medicine.