Whole medical systems

Most types of complementary therapies are part of whole medical systems. Whole medical systems aims to treat the whole person – mind, body and spirit – not just the disease and its symptoms.

In Australia, the main whole medical systems used are naturopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine and homeopathy. Their origins differ, but they share the following concepts:

  • The body needs to be balanced physically, emotionally and spiritually to be healthy.
  • Ill health often has more than one cause.
  • The body has a vital energy reflecting its level of health and wellbeing.
  • The body can heal itself.
  • Health care is usually tailored to the individual.

Learn more about these health care systems:

Remedies from different cultures

Australia’s cultural diversity means some people may want to use traditional healing practices as part of their complementary cancer care.

For example, some Indigenous people with cancer may want the guidance of a traditional doctor or elder who is familiar with bush medicine and Aboriginal spirituality.

Talk to your doctor if you would like to use traditional remedies from your culture.

This information was last reviewed in May 2018
View who reviewed this content
View our editorial policy

Support services

Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum

Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono services, financial and legal assistance, and no interest loans

Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment

Cancer information

What is cancer?
How cancer starts and spreads

Dealing with the diagnosis
Common reactions to a cancer diagnosis and how to find hope

View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends