5 Areas of Complementary Care & Finding the Best Service For You

Complementary care consists of wellness solutions not traditionally used by conventional practitioners. In most cases, complementary services are used in addition to conventional care to achieve a holistic approach to wellness, formally known as integrative care. 

So what exactly are complementary services? Some common examples of complementary care include traditional Chinese medicine such as acupuncture, tai chi, or qigong, ayurveda, homeopathy, naturopathy, bodywork, reiki, massage therapy, and cupping. However, experts generally categorize complementary care into five areas:

Mind-Body Therapies

This type of care combines mental focus, breathing, and body movements to help induce relaxation of the mind and body. Specific examples of complementary services that fall under this category include:

  • Meditation: a practice involving techniques such as mindfulness, or focusing on a particular activity such as breathing to help quiet the mind
  • Biofeedback: a technique involving visual or auditory feedback to help people recognize the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety, such as muscle tension or increased heart rate
  • Yoga: a practice consisting of stretches and poses combined with controlled breathing to help physical flexibility and relaxation of the mind
  • Art and music therapy: practices that involve using art or music to support people process emotions and improve their mental health through creative outlets

Manipulative and Body-Based Practices

This type of care is based on working hands-on with one or more parts of the physical body. Examples of manipulative body-based practices include:

  • Massage therapy: therapy that involves tactfully kneading, rubbing, stroking, or tapping the soft tissues of the body
  • Chiropractic therapy: a practice that involves carefully manipulating the spine, joints, and the overall skeletal system to ensure alignment
  • Reflexology: A technique involving using pressure points in the hands or feed to affect other parts of the body 

Biologically Based Practices 

This type of care focuses on wellness solutions found within Earth naturally. Specific examples of complementary services that fall under this category include:

  • Nutrition based therapy: creating a specific nutritional plan to ensure a person’s diet reflects their wellness needs 
  • Dietary supplements: taking vitamins and other supplements to support the immune system or targeted dietary deficiencies
  • Botanical therapy: incorporating plants or herbs, such as aloe, sambucus, echinacea, turmeric or even cannabis to help the body heal

Biofield Therapy

Sometimes referred to as energy medicine, biofield therapies involve the belief that energy fields can be used for healing and wellness. Examples of biofield therapy include:

  • Reiki: a method of balancing energy from a distance by placing hands on or near the patient to help guide the flow of healthy energy
  • Qigong: a system of coordinated body-posture and meditation consisting of movement and breathing aiming to cultivate mind and body balance

Whole Medical Systems 

These types of complementary care solutions involve entire medical systems that evolved over time from different cultures and parts of the world, each with different branches of therapy types. Examples of whole medical systems include:

  • Ayurvedic medicine: a medical system originating from India that has the primary goal of cleansing the body to restore balance in all areas - mind, body, and spirit
  • Traditional Chinese medicine: a medical system based on the belief that health is a balance in the body of two forces called Yin and Yang
  • Homeopathy: a medical system involving minute doses of naturally produced substances to promote healing
  • Naturopathy: a medical system based on the belief healing and health can be achieved without the use of drugs using controlled diets, exercise, and other complementary services  

With so many different branches of complementary care, with each type of care having its own further branches of specific therapies, 


Have complementary care solutions been researched?

Some types of complementary practices have been studied and tested through research, but not all. The Natural and Non-Prescription Health Products Directorate (NNHPD), which is part of the Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada supports some research on complementary medicine therapies, and it is safe to assume areas of research will grow as more people become frustrated with the traditional healthcare system. It is important to always do your own research and understand the risks and benefits of any type of care before getting treated for a wellness concern. 

How can I find information on the different types of complementary care?

The internet is a great resource to find information, but you need to ensure the sources of information you are using are vetted. Platforms such as PromptHealth, which allows holistic health and wellness practitioners to share information and knowledge on their practice directly to the public, are a great place to start. The information being provided comes directly from the experts, and you also have the freedom to explore all potential care options before settling on a decision.  

If you need to explore and learn more about complementary services, you can use Prompthealth.ca as your wellness navigator or download the app today! Or, if you are wellness practitioner that provides complimentary services join the PromptHealth platform today to start educating the community on what services you offer, and the benefits of your practice.