The present study investigated the experiences of users of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) using a qualitative approach. In-depth interviews were conducted with 11 frequent users and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Results indicated that the patient-practitioner relationship and explanatory frameworks provided by CAM were perceived as important components of the therapeutic process, irrespective of
treatment efficacy. CAM served a variety of functions beyond the explicit relief of symptoms by increasing energy and relaxation, facilitating coping and enhancing self/other awareness. It is therefore important that these wider effects are taken into account when evaluating
complementary medicine in order to accurately reflect patients' experiences.