What is Complementary Medicine?

You may hear the term complementary medicine and wonder what it’s all about. Can it help treat my IBD? Will it alleviate my symptoms?

Complementary medicine includes a variety of treatment options that are not considered conventional medicine. We can help by breaking down the most common types of complementary medicine therapies so that you and your healthcare team can discuss what options may work best alongside your conventional treatment.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) provides the following evolving definitions:

  • Complementary: If a non-mainstream practice is used together with conventional medicine

  • Alternative: If a non–mainstream practice is used in place of conventional medicine

  • Integrative: Brings conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way.

More research is needed on the role of complementary medicine in IBD. Some studies have shown that complementary medicine may help to control symptoms and ease pain, contribute to a better quality of life, and improve your mood and general attitude toward your health and well-being. Some therapies may even have positive effects on your immune system. However, complementary medicine will not cure your disease and it should not replace conventional therapies.

Explore our resources below to learn more about common complementary therapies used by IBD patients!

    Diet and Nutrition

    Understanding the relationship between IBD and diet can help you make healthy decisions. Explore our resources to get started.

    Learn more

    Acupuncture in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

    Can this ancient practice help manage IBD symptoms?

    Read blog

    The Complementary Medicine Initiative is generously supported, in part, by Janssen Biotech, Inc. and Nephroceuticals, LLC. Additional support is provided through the Foundation’s annual giving program and donors.