What is alternative medicine? It is a phrase that has been tossed around more and more in the media, the bookstores, and increasingly, the doctor's office, but how often does anyone say what alternative medicine is?
Theoretically, alternative medicine is any form of
medicine that does not fit with in the scientific framework of western
medicine. Once a form of medicine has been proven scientifically
effective, and a theory has been determined to explain in the language
of western medicine why it is effective, it should no longer be
Unfortunately, after the theory comes the
politics. In reality, in the United States, alternative medicine is any
form of medicine that has not been accepted as scientifically valid by
the American Medical Association and the United States Government. In
other countries different official bodies will determine what is and is
not alternative medicine. In the United States, massage is alternative
medicine. In Canada massage is conventional medicine, and as such,
Would you believe that according the US
government's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine,
vitamins are a complementary or alternative medicine (depending on how
they are used) that have not yet been proven to have any greater effect
on the human body then a placebo? Personally, I'd like to know if they
would like to be treated for scurvy with a placebo. I'll stick with
vitamin C. There are theoretical uses for vitamins that have not yet
been fully proven, but that does not make the proven effects any less
At the same time, just because someone
claims what they offer is medicine does not make it true. Herbal
supplements are not regulated, and may not fully disclose their
ingredients. They certainly will not tell you about any dangerous
interaction with your heart medication!
Of course, you can ask an
expert, but keep in mind that there are many kinds of alternative
medicine, an acupuncturist is not necessarily trained in herbs, and your
primary care physician probably won't be trained in any of them.
you are interested in using alternative medicine, either for a specific
problem, or simply improve your overall health, it's probably best to
first research what kinds of alternative medicine you are interested in,
and speak with you doctor about whether or not she will be willing to
work with an alternative medicine practitioner. Then find a practitioner
who has had training in that specific area of alternative
medicine. Most forms of alternative medicine are not licensed in the
United States, so ask where they went to school, and how long they have
been practicing. Then they can work with your doctor to make sure you
get the care you need, without any unexpected side effects.
Some forms of alternative medicine that might be worth looking into are:
medicine: Oriental medicine is the only form of alternative medicine
that is truly comparably to western medicine as a complete system of
medicine. Oriental medicine is based on several theories developed
thourands of years ago and first elaborated on in the Yellow Emperor's
Classic, between three and five thousand years ago. Oriental medicine
includes the practices of massage, acupuncture, herbal therapy, qi gong,
and several others. Tradition Chinese Medicine is a variant of oriental
medicine specific to China. It is the only variant of oriental medicine
the can be found with relative ease in the United States. In many parts
of Asia, oriental medicine is still considered the standard of medical
care and western medicine is 'alternative.'
Herbal therapy: Herbal
therapy is probably the most common form of alternative medicine found
in the United States, and quite possibly one of the riskiest. While most
of the conventional medicines doctors prescribe today were derived from
herbs, the herbal supplements commonly on sale have no common dosages,
mat contain fillers, and will rarely warn of side effects. While herbs
can be used to treat everything that medication can, and possibly quite a
bit more, make sure you speak with a trained herbalist before taking
any. They can tell you what dosage is safe, what suppliers are worth
using, and any potential side effects.
Homeopathy: Homeopathy was
developed in the 1800's by two doctors who noticed that quinine, the
only medicine capable of treated malaria, caused symptoms of malaria in
healthy people who were given it. They theorized that like would cure
like, so caffeine which normally causes wakefulness, would be used to
help someone who was not sleeping through the night, sleep better.
Homeopathy is probably the only alternative medicine that is safe to try
without speaking with an expert, because the active substance is so
dilute that it is not possible to over dose, or incur side effects on
the amounts in the local health food store, never mind the few bottles
you would keep in your home. At the same time, it is still best to
consult a homeopath to be sure that what your taking will work for what
Massage: Massage is the use of hands or tools to
manipulate the muscles and tendons. The two most common uses of massage
are to ease aches and pains, and for stress relief. While there are many
conditions that massage will obviously not help with (diabetes, for
instance), there are many that it is surprisingly effective on, such as
eating disorders, fibromyalgia, and carpal tunnel syndrome. In addition,
almost any muscular injury can be treated with massage to prevent scar
build up, speed healing, and increase a restricted range of motion.
There are many different forms of massage therapy, including Swedish
Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Pre-Natal Massage, Shiatsu, Thai Massage,
Lomi Lomi, Medical Massage, Chair Massage, Aromatherapy Massage and Hot
Stone Massage. If you go to a massage therapist for a medical condition,
make sure they are trained in Medical Massage. Some states have
licensing programs for massage therapists now, as do most European
countries. If you live in an area that has licensing, make sure the
therapist you go to is licensed.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
There is still no strict definition on what alternative medicine really is. But presently, it borders on the broadness of description covered by what we know of as conventional or orthodox medicine. However, to define alternative medicine as we believe it to be, it may be a knowledge that is considered as unaccepted, untested and unscientific. All these were true if we are to look some years back. But since alternative medicine has been studied in the later years, employed by numberless institutions (such as spas and the likes) and accepted by many as cure to their ailments (even those that may be resolved through conventional medicine), this definition for alternative medicine may already be considered as obsolete.
On other terms, alternative medicines are practices that may be considered false that sometime go to the extent of quackery. However, this definition is much abused by several authorities that have their own systems of beliefs and other things to support to. Still others would define it as practices that may not be tested, refuse to undergo tests and may continuously fail tests. On other peoples' view, this may be too unfair for those practicing the knowledge that comprise alternative medicine and too sweeping a statement since many have gained healing by means of alternative medicine.
This debate on the authenticity of alternative medicine is further made complicated by the number of practices that are labeled as alternative medicine, which has some truths in them. In actuality, alternative medicine covers procedures involving metaphysical principles, spiritual and religious underpinnings, new sets of healing approaches and non-European medicine practices. These are enough reasons why alternative medicine is much harder to accept in the West rather than in the East where most these practices originated. In addition to these, many proponents of alternative medicine contradict and many individual belief systems may reject others.
Furthermore, critics of alternative medicine may further define it as therapy, treatment and diagnosis that may be performed legally by unlicensed practitioners. Yet, a number of doctors and physicians find good uses of alternative medicine when combined with the conventional medicine when they are trying to hit the balance.
But there are more logical and unbiased definitions that are accepted by most. Many of which deal only on the safety and affectivity of the alternative medicine without the protection on economic interests, political views and turf protection. One such definition is that alternative medicine is a field of healing, therapy and diagnosis that are not based on controlled studies.
There are however some therapies that were once covered by alternative medicine that are now accepted within the medical community since they passed approval over their affectivity. On the opposite, there were medical practices that are now disregarded within the medical circles since there are no profound evidences that prove their efficiency in healing.
In reality, the term alternative medicine is quite misleading. Both critics and advocates of the said practices support this view. Some support the idea that Western medical practices are the alternative medicines since they were preceded by ancient practices, which is somewhat true. Others would claim that the term "alternative medicine" was only devised by advocates of conventional medicine to discredit the natural methods of healing.
Posted by admin at 2:04 PM