Alternative medicine includes practices that differ from conventional medicine. Some alternative medicine practices are homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, and herbal medicine. A typical definition is “every available approach to healing that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine”.
alternative medicine is any of various systems of healing or treating disease (as homeopathy, chiropractic, herbal medicine, naturopathy, Ayurveda, or faith healing) that are not included in the traditional curricula taught in medical schools of the United States and Britain
Alternative medicine practices may be based on unconventional belief systems or philosophies; biological data and observations or biochemical principles; and some may not follow the scientific method. They may incorporate spiritual, metaphysical, or religious underpinnings, untested practices, pre-modern medical traditions, or newly developed approaches to healing. If an alternative medical approach, previously unproven according to orthodox scientific or regulatory methodologies, is subsequently shown to be safe and effective, it may then be adopted by conventional practitioners and no longer considered “alternative”.
In 2002, the Medical Subject Headings Section staff of the National Library of Medicine classifies alternative medicine under the term complementary therapies. This is defined as therapeutic practices which are not currently considered an integral part of conventional allopathic medical practice. They may lack biomedical explanations but as they become better researched some, such as physical therapy, diet, and acupuncture, become widely accepted whereas others, such as humors or radium therapy, quietly fade away, yet are important historical footnotes. Therapies are termed as Complementary when used in addition to conventional treatments and as Alternative when used instead of conventional treatment.