Hey Butterfly Effect,
For my first round of research this cycle, I will be introducing the concept of alternative medicine and demonstrating its purpose and derivatives. Outlining the methods of treatments and controversies that surround this practice will be the main purpose of this post, as well as indicating the various approaches and procedures performed in the different types of alternative medicine.
Alternative medicine differs from conventional medicine due to its lack of standardized treatments that are scientifically proven and researched to be effective and reliable, as well as the fact that it is less accepted and employed on a global scale (1). Unlike complementary medicine and complementary treatments, which are used to the accompaniment of conventional treatments, alternative medicine substitutes its standard counterpart (2).
There are numerous different areas of alternative medicine that can be beneficial to various areas of the body as well as the connection with the mind. Traditionally, acupuncture, Ayurveda, homeopathy, and naturopathy are all treatments that have been practiced for centuries everywhere around the world, and are widely accepted as effective (3). Acupuncture is a procedure which involves the insertion of thin needles into certain areas of your body, allowing energy to flow and therefore heal these muscles/bones and relieves either chronic or acute pain (4). Ayurveda, a treatment derived from India, expresses the importance of connection between mind and body. This includes methods such as meditation, breathing, a balanced diet, exercise, etc to maintain well-being in both your physical and mental state (5). Homeopathy is a type of medicine based off of the belief that the body can heal itself, without the need for surgery or other procedures utilized in standard medicine. Homeopathic health practitioners are strong believers that a small dosage of a material or irritant that is triggering symptoms injected into your body will aid the process of your own healing and therefore combatting this disease (6). Lastly, naturopathy builds on the same theories as homeopathy; it holds beliefs that the body has the capacity to heal its own self without any additional aid. It utilizes mainly nutritional supplements and herbal medications, as well as provide counselling in both nutrition and lifestyle in order to maintain overall health (7). Additionally, other branches of alternative medicine have recently proven to be effective and widely accepted. These include treatments in areas of chiropractic medicine, osteopathic medicine, massage therapy, electromagnetic therapy, yoga, and meditation (3).
Although the purpose of alternative medicine is to heal the body and eliminate disease and pain, it provides many more proven benefits that also contribute to the healing process. Stress reduction is one of the most prevalent benefits. Both alternative and complementary treatments incorporate methods of relaxation and/or meditation, which promotes a state of stress-free and calm well-being. This, in turn, allows your body to concentrate its energy on healing the disease at hand instead of focusing on handling the stress or anxiety that you are dealing with. In addition, medicine, healing drugs, and antibiotics are all available thanks to specific branches of alternative medicine, which have been proven to boost the immune system and fight off bacteria or other pathogenic organisms that attack the body. These methods are both safe and natural, hence the popular demand and research which supports its efficacy. Cancer is a disease that is most commonly known to be considered for either complementary or alternative therapy. The interest originates from those who look for a cure but are not convinced by the treatments of chemotherapy amongst others. Normally, complementary therapy involves psychological therapy, meditation, yoga, and more mind-targeted methods. However, alternative therapies utilizing the traditional practices as well as the homeopathy and naturopathy are also of interest. In all, there have been multiple cases where alternative medicine has been proven to be effective and even a valid substitute to traditional practices (8). However, the results and methods are extremely controversial.
However, there are multiple controversies present in almost all different practices of alternative medicine. Here are a couple that I found to be the most interesting:
1. Studies, compared to those that have been conducted for conventional medicine, are very limited for alternative medicine. There has not been enough research conducted in order to completely prove that it is a valid alternative to traditional practices, which can be dangerous to patients deciding on methods of treatment as alternative medicine is not as reliable of a practice.
2. Homeopathic drugs, naturopathic drugs, herbal medicines, and other types of alternative medicines may be non-toxic and natural, however most contain a variety of added ingredients that may cause undesirable or even harmful side-effects. Symptoms may arise from these ingredients depending on the patient, therefore it is a difficult decision to make as some clinical and medicinal drugs offered in conventional medicine may also have toxic effects on the body.
3. Conventional therapy and treatments often can be very expensive, while alternative medicine is much less costly in most aspects. However, many studies have proven that replacing a procedure or a needed surgery with any sort of alternative medicine can be detrimental to the healing process.
4.There have been numerous studies that prove that deciding on alternative medicine instead of its traditional counterpart has concluded to be ineffective and may cause serious effects on your body which can be avoided by taking the conventional route. However, there also have been cases where surgeries or other invasive procedures were not necessary, and the patient may have been put at risk where they could have decided on alternative therapy which could have proven to be safer and more effective. (9)
Thank you so much for taking the time to read over my first research round! Again, I'm so happy to be back and to be able to study my areas of interest once more and to have the opportunity to share my findings with all of you. In my next research round, I will look into conventional medicine (traditional practices of Western medicine, what is commonly used and currently widely accepted) including the recent advances made, pertinent advancements made throughout history, the different practices, treatment methods and examples, as well as controversies. Again, thank you so much for reading. Any and all feedback is welcomed and greatly appreciated!