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An Introduction to Alternative Medicine

The ever-increasing healthcare costs, lack of access to quality healthcare services and professionals, disparities in practices, high side effects of various drugs, and the inability of modern medicine to cure many chronic diseases have renewed public interest in non-traditional cures and therapies. As a result, the field of alternative medicine has grown substantially in recent times. Yet, many people lack knowledge about it. Some even use the term interchangeably with home remedies, which is inaccurate.

So, what exactly is alternative medicine? Let’s discuss!

What is Alternative Medicine?

Alternative medicine is an umbrella term used for treatments, therapies, forms of medicines, or healing techniques that do not meet the standards of medical science or conventional medical practice. They often lack scientific evidence and aren’t commonly practiced or even approved (or considered safe) by medical doctors.

Why Do People Use Alternative Medicine, Then?

Because there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to prove its effectiveness. Alternative medicine techniques and therapies may lack scientific evidence. But as claimed by its proponents, it’s more of scientists’ fault than the ineffectiveness of alternative medicine. Medical scientists and researchers do not study alternative medicine the same way they study and evaluate mainstream treatment methods and products.

Several alternative medicine practices have been around for hundreds or thousands of years, which for many is enough proof to make them worth trying at least.

What Are the Different Types of Alternative Medicine?

As mentioned above, alternative medicine is a broad term and includes many different treatment methods, therapeutic techniques, and healing practices. Some of the most popular ones include:

✔ Ayurveda

✔ Traditional Chinese Medicine

✔ Homeopathy

✔ Naturopathy

✔ Acupuncture

✔ Herbal Medicine

✔ Chiropractic Medicine

Is Alternative Medicine the Same as Complementary Medicine?

Technically, it’s not.

The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same.

Alternative medicine is a group of therapies or treatment methods that are used as a replacement for conventional (scientific) medical treatments and drugs. Complementary medicine, on the other hand, includes practices that are used along with conventional medical treatments to improve their efficiency or provide better/quick recovery.

For example, herbal medicines that replace conventional drugs come into alternative medicine, but therapies like yoga and meditation that are used along with medical treatment and aid in quick recovery fall under complementary medicine.

The Final Word

Several alternative medicine therapies are widely accepted in traditional medical circles, but there are also many that healthcare professionals view with skepticism or outright deny. While doctors’ opinions hold value, you can’t conclude the safety and effectiveness of alternative therapies based on them only. There is a need for more in-depth scientific research to determine if alternative medicine is as effective as it’s claimed to be or not.

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