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While it has extensively rebranded itself: from quackery to complementary or integrative medicine – it promotes essentially the same practices.Newer proponents often suggest alternative medicine be used together with functional medical treatment, in a belief that it "complements" (improves the effect of, or mitigates the side effects of) the treatment.

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Practitioners of complementary medicine usually discuss and advise patients as to available alternative therapies.

Patients often express interest in mind-body complementary therapies because they offer a non-drug approach to treating some health conditions.

Alternative treatments are not the same as experimental medicine or traditional medicine, although much of the latter is alternative when used today.

Alternative medicine has grown in popularity and is used by a significant percentage of the population in many countries.

In addition to the social-cultural underpinnings of the popularity of alternative medicine, there are several psychological issues that are critical to its growth.

One of the most critical is the placebo effect – a well-established observation in medicine.Almost none show any effect beyond that of false treatment.Perceived effects of alternative medicine may be caused by placebo; decreased effect of functional treatment (and therefore potentially decreased side effects); and regression toward the mean where improvement that would have occurred anyway is credited to alternative therapies; or any combination of the above.Alternative medicine consists of a wide variety of practices, products, and therapies – ranging from those that are biologically plausible but not well tested, to those with known harmful and toxic effects.Contrary to popular belief, significant expense is paid to test alternative medicine, including over US.5 billion spent by the United States government.There is no evidence showing they do so, and significant drug interactions caused by alternative therapies may instead negatively influence treatments, making them less effective, notably cancer therapy.

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