Alternative medicine refers to any type of healing practice that falls outside the bounds of conventional medical science. Alternative medicines are generally unproven (proven treatments and techniques usually become part of conventional practice quite quickly).
Some common types of alternative medicine:
Many people believe proof already exists for treatments such as acupuncture, however this is not technically true. While such treatments do often produce positive results, the real test is whether a treatment works better than a placebo (or no treatment at all). The jury is still out, and scientific studies often give conflicting results.
Edzard Ernst, Professor of Complimentary Medicine at Exeter University, said in an interview with New Scientist:
"...about 5 per cent of alternative therapies are backed up by evidence."