Are Probiotics Considered Complementary Medicine?

When it comes to looking after your health, there are several traditions and practices across the world that have created their ways of analysing and treating issues that crop up.

Are Probiotics Considered Complementary Medicine?

Many of these treatments fall have been the subject of both close examination, and even ridicule in some, for better and for worst.

At best, they are often ways to try and treat health issues without the need for a doctor’s appointment. At worst, they can be actively harmful, putting unknown chemicals in the body, and potentially causing long-term damage.

So, if you’re planning on using any of these ‘complementary medicines’, you’re going to need to do your research on the matter to avoid the worst outcome.

That’s exactly what this guide aims to do. We’ll cover what exactly complementary medicines are, why people use them, and whether or not some fall into this category, while others don’t. In particular, we’ll be having a look at where probiotics fit into all this.

What Are ‘Complementary Medicines’?

So, before we get any further into this topic, we should probably first explain what we mean when we say ‘complementary medicine’. We’ve used the term a few times, but haven’t given much background, after all.

To summarize this topic, complementary medicine refers to a massive range of different treatments and therapies that have been developed over the years.

They refer to practices that are intended to help aid recovery or good health but do not need to be referred or prescribed by a doctor, pharmacist, or medical professional.

General speaking, most complementary medicines fall under one of two categories:

  • Mind & Body practices – practises such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, and so on, that try and 
  • Natural/consumable products, that you take over a specified period to get the benefits.

Why ‘Complementary’?

There may be some people asking why the term ‘complementary’ is used specifically when referring to these types of treatment.

Well, that’s because, as their name suggests, these are not replacements for tested and regulated medicines that your doctor, pharmacist or another health professional would give you for treatment.

So keep that in mind as we break down the pros and cons of using some of them later in the guide.

They’re complementary in the most literal sense!

What Sort Of Treatments Fall Under Complementary Medicine?

So, now that we’ve covered the basics of complementary medicines, we can start to break down the different types of complementary medicines out there.

Given that complementary medicines are such a varied and vague category, a lot of products that you would find fall into this category, even ones that you may not be aware of.

The best way to try and understand them as a category is as health-based purchases that you might be able to purchase in a supermarket, health food store, or a similar establishment. This includes products like:

  • Over-the-counter supplements & vitamins
  • Herbal medicines
  • Probiotics

What Are Probiotics?

So, where exactly do probiotics fit into this wider picture?

Are Probiotics Considered Complementary Medicine?

Probiotics are live microorganism colonies that have been cultivated with digestion and gut-friendly types of food products. Sellers claim that these products, from yoghurt to tablets, to other health supplements.

These types of products promote gut health by encouraging cultures of bacteria, found in the probiotic product, to grow in your gut, helping you with bodily functions, such as digestion, and passing waste (going to the toilet).

Why Do People Use Complementary Medicines?

One of the things that many people don’t realize is just how popular complementary medicines are. Over 6 million people in the UK use complementary medicine in some way, over 35% of adults in the US, and more than half of all Australian adults too.

They’ve become very popular in the last few decades.

So, why is this, exactly?

Well, there are quite a few reasons.

Part Of Healthy Living

One of the main reasons that complementary medicine has taken off in the last few years is the increased importance of healthy living that we place in today’s culture.

Healthy living, as we understand it today, isn’t just the absence of disease or illness from the body.

It’s about maintaining a good balance of many different aspects of health, from emotional, to physical health, to a good immune system, and staying psychologically healthy and sound of mind too.

Complementary medicines are a useful way to help manage some of that issues, without the need for a doctor’s recommendation (usually)

Plus, using complementary medicine can have a psychological boost to it.

The fact that you know that you are actively trying to take care of yourself by using these medicines can give you a confidence and boost in motivation that can help encourage you to go further with your self-care efforts.


The rise of complementary and alternative medicines has also come with a rise in dissatisfaction with mainstream medicine and institutions

Whether it is distrust in issues with the profit-making element of medicine, a lack of trust after a health crisis, or simply plain old misinformation, many people have been turning to other forms of healthcare to try and take control back into their healthcare plans and lives.

Final Notes – Are Probiotics Types Of Complementary Medicine?

So, to answer the question that we posed in the title of this guide, the answer is yes, they are.

Without any specific or proven indications that these products promote good health in the body, they are not considered true medicinal products that would require a prescription from a doctor.

Still, they may be able to alleviate smaller-scale issues with your health that you may be having, so it’s worth considering them as a part of a healthy lifestyle change or two that you may be planning.

Make sure to talk with your doctor before you start taking them, however, so that you can get an expert opinion on whether they are right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

When Is The Best Time Of Day To Take Probiotics?

It is generally accepted that first thing in the morning is the best time to consume probiotics, for the best effects over the day.

Try having your probiotics with breakfast next time you take them!

Would Traditional Chinese Medicine Be Classified As A Complementary Medicine?

Probably one of the most popular forms of alternative medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM as it is also known) is a very popular form of medicine used across the world, with its theories, approaches and principles that it follows.

While some aspects of TCM have been proven to have some health benefits, such as tai chi and some TCM herbal remedies, they have not been proven to be any more effective than many other complementary medicines that we’ve covered.

The wider theories, such as the importance of QI, and unlocking and maintaining balances of energy in the body, are also very difficult to qualify and test for scientists, making them impossible to objectively measure for scientific uses.

So, TCM as a whole, until it is proven otherwise, is also considered complementary medicine. Something to use alongside your prescribed treatment, and not instead of.

Are Probiotics Approved By The FDA?

Probiotics have not been approved by the FDA, with no specific health claims to make them outside of what we have already covered.

Clare McAfee
Latest posts by Clare McAfee (see all)
Scroll to Top