Complementary medicine is the term that is used for natural therapies or natural medicine that are used or taken alongside the use of Western biomedicine. The natural healing modalities that are under complementary medicine are not acknowledged as conventional medicine, however when these natural therapies are used in conjunction with biomedicine this is called complementary medicine. Natural therapies and biomedicine complement one another.
Example: A patient sees both a general practitioner (GP) and a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner to combat their recurring flu symptoms. The GP would treat the patient based on their symptoms and would prescribe the patient conventional medication that would suppress the symptoms. The TCM practitioner would holistically treat the patient to get to the root cause of why the patient is presenting the flu symptoms.
Integrative medicine is the term that describes the use of the combination of natural therapies and biomedicine which have been supported by scientific evidence. Although both complementary medicine and integrative medicine both include the use of natural therapies and biomedicine together- the difference between complementary medicine and integrative medicine is that integrative medicine is supported with scientific evidence that the integration of natural therapies and biomedicine creates positive health results. Integrative medicine utilises the advantages of natural therapies and biomedicine to holistically treat the patient. Integrative medicine aims to unite natural therapies and biomedicine by ‘bridging the gap'. Integrative medicine is the integration of natural therapies and biomedicine working cohesively together.
Example: Results from an Australian research study state that aged garlic extract lowers the blood pressure of people who experience hypertension. A patient who experiences uncontrolled hypertension is prescribed by either their doctor and/or natural therapy practitioner to take aged garlic extract capsules alongside their biomedical medication to reduced hypertension. In this instance a naturopath prescribes aged garlic extract capsules and a GP prescribes hypertension pharmaceutical medication to treat the patient in an integrative nature.