Alternative medicine is the collective term of methods whose effectiveness and safety have not been proven—followers of this way of treatment claim that it might be a solution to prevent diseases. The impact of alternative medicine methods is based on facts not determined and often incompatible with the principles of medical science. The most prominent examples of non-traditional therapy are homeopathy, acupuncture, and naturopathy. Alternative medicine can negatively affect patients’ health due to the rejection of clinical methods because more and more people self-medicate without going to a doctor.
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Patients using alternative medicine methods are more likely than others to refuse treatment using conventional clinical methods. In a clinical study of medical records 1.9 million cancer patients, it was found that in a group aged 48–64 years, the total mortality rate among those treated with alternative methods was two times higher comparing those who choose operative treatment (Johnson et al. 122). According to Johnson, people tend to believe in unverified ways to increase their chances of survival and recovery (123). Among cancer patients, the usage of alternative methods leads to rising death rates.
Fraudsters and criminal groups might abuse non-traditional medicine. Sometimes for personal profit, they promote the pseudoscientific therapeutic devices, drugs, and dubious treatment methods. Nowadays, a person is well informed and trusts scientific evidence; as a result, alternative medicine acquires the features of medical science because frauds speak with scientific terms to create an illusion (Gorski 100). Furthermore, the advertising of alternative therapeutic methods promises patients with incurable or intractable diseases to relieve pain or completely cure them. In particular, this situation is typical for cancer, when drug distributors, religious sects, and people in business often work under the guise of specialists in alternative medicine. They take advantage of the fact that desperate patients tend to believe in anything.
Despite the hazard of alternative medicine, there are some people whose point of view is entirely different. Adherents to such methods argue that different approaches of alternative medicine have various positive effects. For example, yoga, massage, and other relaxation procedures reduce symptoms like pain, anxiety, and fatigue; ginger capsules can reduce nausea; in some cases, acupuncture and placebo have the same effect (Delgado-López and Corrales). There are several reasons for the popularity of alternative medicine. First of all, it is the absence of unpleasant and painful procedures. Secondly, the representative of alternative medicine has no restrictions on interviews with the patient.
Nevertheless, alternative medicine has significant drawbacks. One of its branches is the vaccine hesitancy movement. It includes the complete refusal of vaccinations and changing the timing and immunization schedule relative to those recommended by medical institutions. Most anti-vaccinators arguments are not supported by scientific evidence. They are characterized as a disturbing and dangerous misconception (Bricker & Justice 180). Reluctance to be vaccinated often leads to outbreaks and deaths from diseases that can be prevented with vaccines.
In conclusion, the basis of alternative forms of medicine is not the search for a cure, but an advertisement speculating on human illnesses and suffering. A person who promotes alternative medicine, always promises a good treatment outcome and does not doubt the result. At the same time, doctors should tell the truth and side effects according to informed consent. All over the world, patients are less likely to see doctors and, at the same time, take more and more drugs. Alternative medicine is dangerous to the mental and physical health of patients.
Bricker, Brett, and Jacob Justice. “The postmodern medical paradigm: A case study of anti-MMR vaccine arguments.” Western Journal of Communication vol. 83. no. 2, 2019, pp. 172-189.
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Delgado-López, Pedro David, and Corrales-García Eva María. “Influence of Internet and social media in the promotion of alternative oncology, cancer quackery, and the predatory publishing phenomenon.” Cureus vol. 10, no. 5, 2018.
Gorski, David H. Cancer Quackery and Fake News: Targeting the Most Vulnerable. Springer, 2019.