The term “alternative medicine” is becoming a common byword nowadays. By alternative medicine, we mean the use of certain methods and practices for treatment other than conventional methods of treatments such as surgery and medications. Chinese medicine and the Ayurveda medical practice in India are considered as alternative medicine in Western cultures, while it is considered as conventional in those places where they originated from.
Thus, alternative therapies are also largely a matter of social and cultural context. Most of the time, alternative medicine goes with a religious or spiritual element, but in some cases, this spiritual ingredient is not necessitated as alternative practices sometimes merely invoke self-awareness to tune in with the body coupled with natural supplementation.
Alternative medicine is differentiated from complementary medicine in that the latter, as the name suggests is complementing an alternative practice method with conventional treatment practices. Exclusively resorting to alternative treatments and completely supplanting conventional medicine – this is the real essence of alternative medicine. Some people make complementary medicine a recourse and the combination of the utilization of both alternative and conventional methods depends not only on a person’s illness but on his personal beliefs as well.
To have a surefire, well-rounded treatment, majority of individuals use complementary medicine when either conventional treatment or alternative therapies are ineffective on their own. A large proportion of doctors are currently utilizing alternative health techniques with conventional practices. In the last decade, there has been an increase in the percentage of individuals who resorted to alternative treatments from 33.8% to 42.1% in the US.Alternative practices are widely gaining acceptance in the Western world although conventional methods of treatment are the most widespread in these cultures.
In fact, as of date, 60% of medical schools in the United States have included courses in alternative methods as a scope of getting an MD degree. The number of universities offering courses and even degrees in alternative medicine is on the rise. A whopping 85% of nursing schools include the same in their curriculum. Reputable medical schools now include numerous alternative medicine courses in their curriculum.
This instigated the expansive acceptance of alternative methods of treatment in Western cultures. However, there are some critics that denounce the effectiveness of alternative medicine. Presumably due to the fact that researches and studies have not proven the effectiveness of alternative therapies, these critics doubt the credibility of this technique.
After all, by definition, isn’t it just an “alternative”? It should have been considered as another form of conventional treatment if alternative medicine was proven effective. As the practice of alternative medicine is significantly dependent on an individual’s eliciting body changes through self awareness, it is difficult to gauge the success of alternative treatments.
A person’s level of self-awareness is a highly subjective matter and would be exigent to measure objectively. Furthermore, there are presumptions that the positive results of alternative medicine may be attributed to the placebo effect or natural healing. It is however inarguable that alternative medicine methods are safe as long as properly employed.
If the person remains under the care of a conventional medicine practitioner, alternative therapy is unlikely to be consequential and may even be the way to a speedy recovery.