Alternative medicine, like the word implies is a form of medicine that is different from the popularly known one. It is an alternative to what is practised by the scientific form of medicine. It is more like an art rather than a science. Yet in many populations around the world, it is known to have existed for over 5000 years.
It is the form of medicine that our great-great-grand-parents relied on before scientific medicine came to be. Scientific medicine seems to have kicked the older form of medicine out of the way. But for the past decade, it seems people have been relying more and more on alternative medicine to deal with their ailment. Some articles are actually talking about a rise in that form of medicine.
There are many forms of alternative medicine: Acupressure, Acupuncture, Aromatherapy, Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, Chiropractic, Herbal Medicine, Homeopathy, Hydrotherapy, Massage Therapy, Music Therapy, Naturopathic, Reflexology, Reiki, Tai Chi, Yoga.
Each of them may work based on a different philosophy. Most of those philosophies do not yet have any scientific evidence. It seems to work very well with some patients. In other cases it doesn’t seem to have any effect. One popular case is the one of the famous Steve Jobs. After being diagnosed with cancer, he decided to rely on alternative medicine to heal even though his doctors suggested he rather go through a surgical operation.
After 9 months of relying of alternative therapy the cancer got worse and spread through other organs. He ended up taking the surgery but the doctors had to removed certain organs that got infected because the cancer spread to them. Some critics are actually using this fact to support the idea that, if Steve Jobs had taken the surgery earlier on, he could have lived a bit longer.
Yet the number of patients that rely on alternative medicine seems to increase each year, why is that? The fact is there are some diseases that have not yet found any remedy for, in scientific medicine and seem to have found a solution for, in alternative medicine.
Lower back pains is known to be solved with chiropractic doctors. A lot of women with childbirth problems claim they were able to get pregnant with the help of a doctor in acupuncture. Early studies in aromatherapy and essential oils seems to suggest that it accelerates the healing process of the body. It is known that those who practice yoga or tai chi tend to get sick much less often compared to those who do not practice those things.
Is alternative medicine better than scientific medicine?
Alternative medicine is much based on finding the root cause of the problem the patient is going through than just trying to remove it. Scientific medicine is much more based on finding the symptoms causing the illness then prescribing the required drugs or surgery to solve the problem.
Both approach are neither good nor bad. As a rule of thumb, the unconventional medicine can be used to maintain general health but when it comes to serious cases it is always advisable to contact a conventional doctor. A new form of medicine been born called integrative medicine tends to combine the two, making the best out of the two school of thought.
Research is still ongoing as to how the different forms of alternative medical approach work. The future will give us a better idea of what is really going on with alternative medicine.