David Yap, BSc
The area of complementary medicine in Geriatrics is important, as the use of complementary practices grows along with the expanding elderly population. Complementary medicine consists of a wide range of health care services, which are offered outside the mainstream of orthodox western medicine. Some types of complementary health services are: Acupuncture, T'ai Chi, Herbal Medicine, Homeopathy and Chiropractic.
In complementary medicine, health is viewed as the result of interactions between positive life building forces and negative destructive forces. To treat an illness complementary medicine attempts to improve the positive forces by incorporating a holistic conception of health. Complementary medicine lacks the emphasis on determining a specific pathophysiological diagnosis. The assessment of an individual is based on history and physical exam without a heavy reliance on laboratory tests to confirm a particular diagnosis. Lastly, in complementary medicine the individual actively takes part in their well being and is at least an equal partner in the practitioner-patient relationship.
It is important for family doctors and general internists to have a basic understanding and background in complementary medicine due to the increasing use of complementary services and the potential benefits.
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