complémentaire santé refers to a wide range of products, practices and approaches that are used alongside conventional medicine. They include a broad range of therapies such as massage, acupuncture, herbal medicine and meditation. These practices differ greatly but they all have some common features.
Most complementary practitioners have a holistic view of human health. They believe that illness occurs when the body is out of balance and that the body has a natural ability to heal itself if given the right conditions. Many practitioners also take the view that natural products are preferable to synthetic ones.
They may also use theories or techniques that are not easily explained using scientific methods. For example, the reflex zones manipulated in reflexology do not correspond to any known anatomical areas of the body, and the energy called Qi (pronounced “chee”) that is central to Chinese medicine does not have any apparent physiological correlates.
Despite the fact that complementary approaches are not part of conventional medical practice, they have grown to be very popular. The use of complementary health approaches is significantly higher in some regions of the country than in others. Some of the reasons for these differences are likely to be related to environmental and cultural factors.
Using complementary health approaches should be an informed decision made in conjunction with your doctor or other health care professional. It is important to understand what evidence exists regarding the safety and effectiveness of complementary approaches. Always tell your health care providers about all the health products, practices and treatments you use, including complementary, so they can have a complete picture of how you manage your health and wellbeing.