Since all people desire to be healthy, medicine is one of the most demanded services sectors. Over the past centuries, there have been many different ways of healing; some of them are common and accepted by everyone; others are rather controversial. In the 1990s, doctors started realizing that alternative medicine became rather popular with Americans. In 1993, the first article about this process noted that 34 percent of respondents “reported using at least one unconventional therapy in the past year, and a third of these saw providers for unconventional therapy” (Eisenberg et al. 246). However, even nowadays, not all people agree with alternative medicine’s power of healing, and their main concern is that its interactions are potentially dangerous or useless. I believe that complementary and alternative medicine do represent a healing method for various sicknesses as its basic principle is balance, and it works as supportive, primary, and sole treatment.
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Reasons for Not Using Alternative Medicine
Undoubtedly, people who are against this kind of therapy have their own rather meaningful reasons and concerns. The first disadvantage of complementary medicine is that it usually takes time to start working. In other words, it may take several hours or days before alternative treatments show any positive effects; it does not heal instantly. Sometimes people can wait that much time but in other cases, for example, if a person suffers from splitting headache or stomachache, he or she needs some medicine that helps immediately. This is the reason why complementary therapy is not recommended for emergency situations.
Another disadvantage is that, typically, this way of healing requires major lifestyle changes. If people really want to adopt alternative medicine as the method of gaining and maintaining optimum health, they need to commit their energy, time, and usually even finances. As for lifestyle transformations, they include different diet, giving up painkillers, and adopting a different mindset when it is about facing and dealing with various problems and stressful situations in life. This is considered as a disadvantage because it may be rather difficult to make one’s habits completely different.
The third reason for being against complementary medicine is probably the main one. Such therapy may interact with a person’s particular compulsory medication in the wrong way. For instance, some herbal remedies can have an effect on or interact with prescription drugs. Moreover, there is a possibility that some kinds of natural therapies may have contra-indications for a person’s health status. Another concern is limited scientific research and lack of skillful and experienced practitioners. Compared to traditional therapy, evidence for the safety of alternative healing methods remains limited, and it leaves many questions unanswered. Moreover, many people think that complementary medicine simply does not work, and there is some evidence for that. For example, Britain’s first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst, conducted an experiment on children with asthma (“Homeopathy is Pointless, Says Expert”). He treated one group with conventional medications, and the other with homeopathic ones, and concluded that the second was just a placebo.
Reasons for Using Alternative Medicine
There are several types of alternative medicine that vary dramatically. Some of them are acupuncture, chiropractic care, reiki, which is an energy therapy, homeopathy, herbal, and ayurvedic medicine (Tabish 6). Despite the fact that complementary therapy has a number of drawbacks, and many people do not believe in its power, there are those who find it rather useful and helpful and practice it instead of traditional therapy. There are many advantages of complementary therapy that prove to me its healing and positive effects. First, such medicine teaches people to become more responsible for their own health and regain their mind and body balance. It is crucial since all the pains and illnesses that a person feels are caused and brought about by stresses and imbalances in his or her system. Alternative therapy teaches people how to maintain their general wellness for long-term health and become more proactive and empowered in taking care of their bodies and minds.
Second, alternative medicine is not as expensive as most of the modern therapies and treatments. The reason for this is that its medications involve using only natural ingredients that may usually be found in a person’s garden, kitchen, or from his or her surroundings. Finally, complementary medicine may work as a supportive, primary, and sole treatment. It helps people stay fit and reduce the risks of various severe diseases. For example, studies show that “heart patients who get regular aerobic exercise are less likely to have heart attacks brought on by physical exertion” (Rothenberg Gritz). Also, “prescription opioids are highly addictive and get less effective over time, and overdoses can easily turn fatal” (Rothenberg Gritz). That is why people have to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, for example, aspirin and ibuprofen, which can cause severe gastrointestinal problems; this is unlikely to happen with alternative medicine. On the contrary, according to Rothenberg Gritz, “acupuncture, for instance, has been shown to help with problems like back, neck, and knee pain.” This is evidence that complementary medicine is rather powerful and, in some cases, may be considered safer than the ordinary one.
Benefits of Using Alternative Medicine
A number of benefits of using alternative medicine come from its power of making one’s body, mind, and even soul stronger and healthier with the least medical and chemical interventions. For instance, acupuncture is able to help with some types of nausea and mild pain (Simon). Music and art therapy, which is also complementary treatment, can enhance life’s quality and promote healing. Biofeedback uses some monitoring devices that may assist a person in gaining conscious control over physical processes such as blood pressure, sweating, muscle tension, temperature, and heart rate (Simon). Massage therapies may reduce pain, depression, anxiety, and stress and increase alertness. Spirituality and prayer, also kinds of alternative medicine, may help people with cancer’s emotional side effects (Simon). Yoga and tai chi are believed to improve balance and strength and reduce stress and anxiety.
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Complementary therapy focuses on helping to find the root cause of the pain and heal it instead of merely getting rid of its symptoms. Moreover, since alternative medicine is considered natural, it is a good and riskless way for most patients to heal their chronic conditions. There are people who do not like chemical interventions in their body and try to avoid them as much as possible by using complementary treatments. Also, alternative medicine practitioners differ from traditional physicians who are strapped for time and pressured by full waiting rooms and insurance companies. Complementary therapists can offer a great deal of personal attention and place greater emphasis on one-on-one treatment.
Despite the fact that complementary and alternative medicine is proved to have both major advantages and drawbacks, there is no one certain decision. This kind of therapy is not wrong and dangerous, but that does not mean that it is right and safe for everyone. People all over the world have the choice of whether or not they will use yoga, homeopathy, massage, or acupuncture as a treatment. However, no matter what they decide, they do not have the right to make others choose the same since what suits one does not always suit all.
There are several ways that may guarantee more safety and a larger number of people becoming satisfied with the situation. It has to become obligatory and necessary to inform the alternative practitioner about all the medications the patient is currently taking and make sure that the advice regarding incorporating complementary therapies for the healing is professional and appropriate. To reduce risks of death or severe consequences, complementary therapy should be used not instead of but along with standard treatment. If chosen and used correctly, herbal tea, music, dietary supplements, vitamin regime, and tai chi may become a nice and helpful addition to the usual medicine. Since consumer demand is increasing, funding for research studies on complementary medicine is growing, and soon there will be more information on alternative therapy. In other words, no matter if people are against or for complementary treatment, both sides should respect, support, and understand the choices made by others.
To draw a conclusion, I may say that, nowadays, alternative medicine is not as famous as the standard one, but it has all the chances to become such. The word alternative, back in the 1990s, was a synonym for forward-thinking, strange, and unacceptable, so this therapy was and, by some people, is believed to be wrong. I think that complementary medicine represents a rather good treatment method and can heal various diseases. It has the power of reducing stress and anxiety, eliminating the root causes of sicknesses, and making and maintaining people strong and healthy. If patients consult a specialist, follow all the recommendations, and do not violate the instructions, alternative medicine may help them with fighting and getting rid of their chronic pains and diseases. It poses a danger only when people use it incorrectly; in other cases, such therapy’s advantages are much more significant than its drawbacks.
Eisenberg, David, et al. “Unconventional Medicine in the United States. Prevalence, Costs, and Patterns of Use.” The New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 328, no. 4, 1993, pp. 246-252.
“Homeopathy is Pointless, Says Expert.” Mail Online, 2006. Web.
Rothenberg Gritz, Jennie. “The Evolution of Alternative Medicine.” The Atlantic, 2015. Web.
Simon, Stacy. “The Truth About Alternative Medical Treatments.” American Cancer Society, 2019. Web.
Tabish, Syed Amin. “Complementary and Alternative Healthcare: Is it Evidence-Based?” International Journal of Health Sciences, vol. 2, no. 1, 2008, pp. 5-9.