MedlinePlus – Complementary and Alternative Therapies

MedlinePlus - (CAT) section features a comprehensive collection of information about non-traditional medicine. The section includes a medical encyclopedia and links to a variety outside resources with information about acupuncture, integrated & complementary medicine, chiropractic, alternative cancer therapies, herbal medicine, and dietary supplements. This MedlinePlus section is recommended as an excellent source of reliable, science-based information about CAT.

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Review Date: 10/26/2018


Ease of Use

The section has intuitive navigation by A-Z topic list. Each listed therapy leads to a page with a user-friendly summary of these therapies. There is also a right-hand list that allow access to other CAT topics. Because the unique nature of MedlinePlus, with its many links to outside resources, users must constantly jump from this site to others and then back again; the resulting navigation can be tedious.

Visual Design

The landing page only provides a list of topics. No images or multimedia to engage the reader. And the material is not organized aside from alphabetically, whereas topic headings would benefit the visual appearance. MedlinePlus already features a dull graphic design; this page brings the quality down to a new level.


Users can navigate to wealth of comprehensive, detailed, and reliable information about CAT. Inconsistent referencing make the reliability of each MedlinePlus page variable. Topics found in the medical encyclopedia are well referenced, while this is inconsistent for individual CAT summaries and information from linked sites. However, most links go to respected federal or specialty organization sites.


MedlinePlus clearly identifies the organizations responsible for the content, which include the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, NIH Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, and National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. Users will find that the medical encyclopedia topics have the highest reliability by listing reviewers and date of last review. Although MedlinePlus does a great job updating it's pages regularly, the currency of linked sites varies, and individual authors/editors of each topic page are not identified & only occasionally credited on the linked sites.


  1. Extensive Medical Encyclopedia with information related to CAT
  2. Links to reliable and up-to-date information about acupuncture, integrated & complementary medicine, chiropractic, alternative cancer therapies, herbal medicine, and dietary supplements
  3. Highly credible website with backing from the U.S. government and relying on materials generated by authoritative organizations


  1. User-friendliness of materials vary depending on the linked website
  2. Users will have to spend significant time navigating and reading in order to get helpful information


Sponsors / Affiliations: The U.S. National Library of Medicine, The National Institutes of Health

Accreditations: None

Additional Features: Patient handouts, videos, images, relevant journal articles, doctor finder, links to research

Languages: English, Spanish