Monday, September 7, 2009

The Benefits and Concerns about Alternative Medicine

A growing number of people are turning to alternative medicine and natural healing low-tech methods of preventing illnesses and solving everyday health problems. They argue that conventional medicine is becoming too complicated, costly and in some cases ineffective.

Critics argue that alternative medicine includes treatments and substances that are untested by accepted scientific standards, and are mostly ineffective and could be dangerous for some medical conditions.

These are the generally accepted facts about alternative medicine:

  • Common types of alternative medicine include herbs, supplements, therapies, and activities programs not recognized by conventional medical practice. Acupuncture, massage, meditation, herbal teas and plant extracts are a few examples.
  • These alternative remedies, have been around for over 5,000 years. Supporters argued that any harm from alternative medicine arises not from the herbal remedies themselves, but from an abuse of their use.
  • Even mainstream physicians have begun to recommend natural drugless therapies to treat everyday complaints and serious illnesses. Dietary modification has become the weapon of choice against several diseases that would have been treated mainly with prescription drugs a generation ago.
  • It is now known that illnesses such as heart attack, cancer, weight problems, arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure are caused by the wrong diet. All of these illnesses can be treated to some degree with diet modification and regular exercise.

Yet the criticism of alternative medicine has caused uncertainty among many who wish to test its effectiveness against illnesses that conventional medicine has failed to cure. The criticism is focused on three areas:

  • The danger that the herbs and plant extracts from alternative medicine will be taken in excessive amounts and cause negative physiological reaction in the body and make the condition worse.
  • Too much reliance on alternative medicine will cause persons with serious medical conditions like cancer, heart attack or some other chronic illness to forego conventional treatments that have been proven to be effective.
  • When a patient does not tell his physician that he is receiving alternative treatment, ingesting both herbs or plant extracts and prescription medications at the same time could produce harmful physiological interaction within the body.
  • On the other hand, while antibiotics have saved millions of lives, they are no match to some resurgent germs that are turning up in mutated forms. Since alternative medicine seeks to examine the physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental and social conditions of the whole person, it has become the cure of last resort for many who suffer from illnesses that conventional medicine has so far failed to cure.

The above pointers are for informational purpose only. Be sure to seek advice from your physician before taken any herb or plant extracts.

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