Top 5 Complementary Medicines Used in Hospitals

Meditation and Yoga

Yoga can exercise the body and quiet the mind.
Yoga can exercise the body and quiet the mind.
Bob Stockfield/National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine/NIH

Practices like meditation and yoga, offered in hospitals all over the country (and the world), are popular not only in the treatment of sickness but also in the regular maintenance of general health. They're part of a group of therapies known as mind-body medicine, as well as a whole medical system called Ayurveda, which originates in India.

In mind-body medicine, the mind and body are connected integrally. The mind can and does affect a person's health. In this approach, treatments like meditation, yoga, prayer and art are used to alleviate symptoms and assist in the treatment of all sorts of diseases and conditions, including cancer, depression and anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure, poor circulation and chronic pain.

In yoga, a person holds poses (or postures) for extended periods of time and stretches muscles in ways that promote not only circulation to certain body parts, but also help to quiet the mind and ease stress. In this practice, a calm and healthy mind helps to heal the body, and a calm and healthy body helps to soothe the mind, which can then better serve the body. Meditation seeks to achieve similar results but it is a still, mind-based approach. People who meditate use techniques such as visual imagery and mantras to focus and clear the mind.

Mind-body medicine is probably the most common group of complementary treatments offered in conventional hospitals. The next two practices on the list are also from this category.