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Alternative medicine also known as complementary medicine is any therapeutic practice which is outside the generally accepted practice of science based medicine. It includes some types of therapeutic practices that are hundreds if not thousands of years old. However, although many forms of alternative medicine are well accepted to provide some clinical relief to patients (such as chiropractic) and others have resulted in genuine medical breakthroughs (such as the effect of traditional herbal medicine on the development of some pharmaceuticals), the quality of care can range from generally effective in the short term to outright quackery.
Although some physicians work alternative therapies into their medical practice as they help build trust with patients, other practitioners object to the use of the term as giving some scientific basis to what is largely a set of therapies based on tradition and anecdote rather than clinical trials.