These medicines and treatments range from acupuncture and homeopathy to aromatherapy, meditation and colonic irrigation.
There is no universally agreed definition of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
The information that tells whether a healthcare treatment is safe and effective is called evidence. You can use evidence to help you decide whether you want to use a CAM. Detailed information on many complementary and alternative treatments can be found listed on the NHS website in the Health A-Z index.
Some complementary and alternative medicines or treatments are based on principles and an evidence base that are not recognised by the majority of independent scientists.
The availability of complementary and alternative treatments on the NHS is limited. Some, such as acupuncture, may be offered by the NHS in some circumstances.
‘Alternative’ and ‘complementary’ defined