With the increasing use of Alternative Medicine in recent times arises the question of when to choose alternative medicine and the uncertainty surrounding its benefits and adverse effects. The answer to this crucial question in current health management cannot be simplified in a “Yes” or “No”. We rarely have to choose between good and bad. The choice is usually between good and very good.

Alternative medicine, also referred to as “Complementary” or “Integrative” medicine, by its very definition means therapies and practices that are beyond the scope of conventional medicines. These are treatments that are used alongside and in some cases as a substitute to a scientifically proven treatment to achieve faster or desired healing effects.

Many Alternative medicines may have long respected history, for e.g. Acupuncture, traditional Chinese medical technique proven to be effective in treating neck and back pain, anxiety, insomnia and more or Ayurveda Medicines that first started in India and relied upon ancient herbs and specific diets to treat illness. Alternative medicine armamentarium also includes Chiropractic Medicine that allows a skilled expert to employ diverse techniques to maintain the alignment of your spine and Reiki and Pranic Healing, a contemporary healing technique that utilizes the body’s inherent energy for healing purposes. Aromatherapy or essential oil therapy is being used for more than 6000 years with an aim to improve one’s health, mood and provide psychological benefits. Normally used through inhalation or as a topical application.

Top 5 reasons why people go for Alternative Medicine

The past decade has witnessed an increasing use of Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) across the globe and have become an indispensable part of primary health care. Although, most of these therapies focus on relaxation and reducing stress, rather than the physiologic effect on the body. This idea of herbal, natural and non- toxic beliefs associated with CAM treatments helps individuals to have a greater sense of health and well being. Some reasons why people go for alternative medicine –

1. Complimentary: Medical treatment doesn’t hurt if you have the money or are desperate to get better. When conventional methods are not providing desired results, CAM medicines are recommended by the medical provider in combination with conventional treatment to provide effective treatment.

2. Psychological: To some, it brings a sense of control on their treatment while to others the concept of supplementary therapies provides hope. How you feel plays a major part in the way you cope.

3. Inherent Fear: Fear of Surgeries or medical interventions.

4. Experience: When you know a friend got better taking a certain medication, why not try the same? So many times patients believe more in a friend’s experience than an expert opinion. Like an endorsement about a product as a feed on your Facebook timeline catches your attention way more as one feels it might be valuable. Power of the “known” mostly wins over the fear of the ”unknown”.

5. Comfort: Many people might get a lot of comfort from the talks and time a complementary therapist usually offers.

6. Natural healing: Patients believe in the healing of the body to become healthy physically and mentally. CAM treatment allows you to believe that with more natural ideas the side effects would be far less than conventional treatment.

7. Traditional practice: In many cases, traditional practices influence choices and are accepted more. Like Chinese traditional treatment Acupuncture can help reduce pain in the neck after a surgery to remove lymph nodes.

Often the most vocal support for CAM medicines comes from individuals based on their own personal experience. Although it might not be a substitute to medically experimented treatment, CAM is accepted widely because for many, evidence of an individual’s experience in fighting a disease with every ounce of one’s being counts more than analysis based on statistics. I do agree the authenticity of these treatments have always been in question and are subjected to the lights of scientific scrutiny but CAM treatments are based on three essentials for a happy life: faith, hope and love.

With more research, alternative medicine will fall under the umbrella of studied medical science. Extensive analysis is imperative on each therapeutic concept of CAM medicine so that accurate risk-benefit evaluation can be performed prior to including the therapy in clinical practice. It is true that in the medical field every concept, every hypothesis, every dream should be considered.