Pros and Cons of Alternative Medicines

by Garreth Myers


Billions of dollars are spent on different forms of alternative medicine in the US every year. As more and more people get on the bandwagon and try out some type of alternative medicine either as a primary or complementary treatment, there is a need to evaluate the pros and cons of this trend.

Alternative medicine includes different types of practices and methods. Ranging from yoga and meditation to herbal medicine, aromatherapy, massage, acupuncture and many more, the basic premise of alternative medicine is balance. These forms of energy medicine attempt to balance the body with the mind to restore health and prevent illnesses. This may seem like a welcome change from the hard sell of traditional medicine that aims to treat a particular condition on its own through drugs and surgery that may come with another whole set of complications and health risks. But before you dismiss or write off conventional methods of healing, you should understand what it is that alternative medicine offers and what its limitations are.

Alternative medicine approaches an individual along with a health problem or illness as a whole. It puts a strong emphasis on complete body care and does not address just the area that is ill or dysfunctional. There is also an entire mind-body connection that alternative medical practices attempt to cultivate. From your spiritual health to your emotional needs, alternative medical practitioners believe in a holistic approach to treatments and cures. Traditional medicine tends to view a disease as a separate entity from a person. This may explain why most drugs prescribed and surgeries carried out come with a long list of possible complications and side effects. The biggest advantage of alternative medicine is that it helps the body heal completely by not only treating the cause of the illness but also making parallel lifestyle changes to promote overall health and wellbeing. These changes can go a long way in aiding recovery and preventing disease. Alternative medicine combines practices such as healing, energy medicine, and osteopathic medicine and much more along with allopathic and traditional treatments. It is not averse to the idea of integrating all these different types of treatments to work towards the single goal of healing the body and mind of the individual concerned. Alternative medicine believes that 90 percent of all illnesses have their roots in the mind and therein lies the basic principle of most of their treatment methods and practices.

Another advantage of alternative medicine is the one on one care received by the patient. By virtue of its principle of whole-body balance, alternative medicine demands a lot of personal attention. All facets of the patient"s life and routine are discussed and taken care of. This is in sharp contrast to traditional doctors who are often strapped for time and hounded by insurance companies and cannot spend too much time on each patient.

Alternative medicine also focuses on prevention rather than plain cure. It teaches the patient to be responsible for his own health and make the necessary lifestyle changes to ensure that diseases do not occur. In the even that an illness occurs, it also empowers the individual to heal himself through a variety of methods. Alternative medicine encourages visits even when in good health and is a long-term commitment to your overall wellbeing.

On the whole, alternative medicine is safer than traditional means of treating sickness. However, it is still recommended that you consult with a trained practitioner of therapist and do not self-medicate. There are several herbs and therapies that can cause more harm than good if not supervised.

Inspite of all the advantages of alternative medicine, there are still certain drawbacks that you should be aware of before making an informed decision. Alternative medicine is not a quick fix option. In fact, it demands a larger commitment and more effort on a person"s part than traditional medicine. Habits have to be broken and changes have to be made before any benefits are seen. If this does not happen, there is a slim chance of alternative medicine actually working. There is also a lot of trial and error involved with alternative therapies. What works for one person need not necessarily work for another and hitting upon the right treatment may take time (and money). It is also recommended that alternative methods not be used as sole treatment alternative in serious illnesses. If not used in a holistic manner, simply substituting drugs with an alternative therapy will not work.

With the dramatic rise in popularity of alternative medicine in recent years, there has also been increased scientific research into the various claims to investigate the efficacy of various natural substances. Although research is still inadequate, preliminary studies have found mixed results, with some claims of alternative medicine being supported, while others have been dismissed. Finally, alternative medicine is often marketed as a "safe" and "natural" form of treatment. Keep in mind that these two words are not synonymous. Many herbal supplements are labeled as natural or as a "miracle cure" and these have to treated with some degree of skepticism.


Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
More articles from the Alternative Medicine and Health Category