Naturopathic Treatment and Complementary Medicine in Surgical Practice

Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2018 Dec 7;115(49):815-821. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2018.0815.


Background: Many patients in Germany use naturopathic treatments and complementary medicine. Surveys have shown that many also use them as a concomitant treatment to surgery.

Methods: Multiple databases were systematically searched for systematic reviews, controlled trials, and experimental studies concerning the use of naturopathic treatments and complementary medicine in the management of typical post-operative problems (PROSPERO CRD42018095330).

Results: Of the 387 publications identified by the search, 76 fulfilled the inclusion criteria. In patients with abnormal gastrointestinal activity, acupuncture can improve motility, ease the passing of flatus, and lead to earlier defecation. Acupuncture and acupressure can reduce postoperative nausea and vomiting, as well as pain. More-over,aromatherapy and music therapy seem to reduce pain, stress and anxiety and to improve sleep. Further studies are needed to determine whether phytotherapeutic treatments are effective for the improvement of gastrointestinal function or the reduction of stress. It also remains unclear whether surgical patients can benefit from the methods of mind body medicine.

Conclusion: Certain naturopathic treatments and complementary medical methods may be useful in postoperative care and deserve more intensive study. In the publications consulted for this review, no serious side effects were reported.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Naturopathy / methods*
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy*