What are complementary medicines?
Complementary medicines include:
- natural and herbal medicines
- alternative or holistic remedies
- traditional remedies
- aromatherapy oils
- vitamins and minerals (although these can be part of medical treatment too).
Like all medicines, complementary medicines can have benefits and side effects, cause allergic reactions, or interact with prescription medicines. They still need to be used with care.
Is it a medicine?
A lot of people don’t realise that complementary products, such as herbal remedies, vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements, are medicines too.
Medicines are substances that are meant to change the way your body deals with illness or injury, or to maintain your health and wellbeing.
They can come in many forms, such as tablets, liquids, inhalers, drops, patches, creams, lotions, pessaries, suppositories or injections.
You can get them from a pharmacist, with or without prescription, or from supermarkets, health food shops, herbalists, naturopaths and the internet.
Seek advice from a qualified person when choosing a complementary medicine. Ask about:
- suitable brands or formulations
- how much to take
- how often to take the medicine, and
- what side effects and interactions to look out for.
As with all medicines, tell your health professional about any complementary medicines you are currently taking. That way, you can avoid potentially harmful interactions with your prescription or pharmacy medicines.