I. What Is Alternative Medicine? Alternative medicine practices are used instead of standard medical treatments. Alternative medicine is distinct from complementary medicine which is meant to accompany, not to replace, standard medical practices. Alternative medical practices are generally not recognized by the medical community as standard or conventional medical approaches. Alternative medicine includes dietary supplements, mega dose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, massage therapy, magnet therapy, and spiritual healing. II. Alternative Medicines Pose A Threat To Public Health A.
Many alternative remedies, such as homeopathy, offer nothing but a false hope and can discourage patients from consulting a doctor with what may be serious symptoms There are good reasons why new therapies are tested in scientific trials first, rather than just released on the public that it might work. The first is to weed out side-effects but the other is that if you give most people a medicine they will, not unreasonably, expect it to make them better.
An entire industry has grown out of alternative medicines. No doubt many alternative practitioners are well meaning, but this does not change the fact that people are making money out of something that, as far as anyone can determine, is basically snake oil.
Although many people take both alternative and established treatments, there are a growing number of patients who reject conventional medical wisdom (there’s an account of one such case here[i]) in cases that prove fatal the availability of alternative medicines raises serious ethical and legal concerns, and also undermines the stringent regimes of monitoring and supervision that qualified medical professionals are subjected to.. B.
Although there are many accounts of the efficacy of alternative cancer treatments, not one has been demonstrated to work in a clinical trial The National Centre for Conventional and Alternative Medicines has spent over $2. 5bn on research since 1992.
Look at this now – Complementary Therapies
The Dutch government funded research between 1996 and 2003. Alternative therapies have been tested in mainstream medical journals and elsewhere. Not only have thousands of research exercises failed to prove the medical benefit ”alternative” treatments for severe and terminal diseases, serious peer-reviewed studies have routinely disproved them. It’s all well and good to pick at mistakes in individual studies. Indeed, this tactic often forms the mainstay of pleas for legitimacy made by members of the alternative medical community.
However, the odds against such consistently negative results would be extraordinary. By contrast, conventional medicine only prescribes medicines and treatments that are proven, and vigorously proven, to work. C.
Overwhelmingly alternative therapies are used in conjunction with established remedies – oddly the latter tends not to get the credit for the miracle cure Thankfully only 4. 4% of the 60million or so Americans who say they use alternative therapies rely on them exclusively. It is odd that in the cases of anecdotal accounts of the success of alternative medicines this statistic is rarely mentioned[i].
Equally, the impact of other treatment which may have been used by patients eager to credit complementary and alternative medicines with curing their conditions, tend not to get a look in, neither do the relative successes of conventional medicine. This is probably why in every trial alternative medicine has a success rate of between 0% and 0%.
By contrast there needs only be one instance of harm caused to demonstrate that this motion must stand. Interestingly, although conventional medicine publishes its mistakes in an effort to correct them, nothing similar exists for alternatives. Moreover, there are many accounts of fatalities caused by alternatives – both directly and indirectly through delaying accurate diagnosis as seen above (Oh, the same applies to animals too).
The food supplements industry alone is worth $250 a year worldwide, with little examination of the medical impact of merrily shoving things into your system that were bought at WalMart or Tesco. Alternative Medicine: A Critique from Scientific Medicine Scientific evidence in medicine is often very difficult to gather. We can’t ethically study people the same way we study neutrons or fish.
We gather some information from studies of “natural experiments” — the relationship of selenium to cancer, for example. Our best evidence, however, comes from very expensive studies where a treatment and a placebo are given randomly to patients without either patient or physician knowing which is which. From those studies we’ve learned that a placebo alone, which is believed to have no biological activity, will improve many conditions by at least a third. (Example: reduce pain by 30% or more. )
From scientific studies of health and disease, we’ve confirmed the power of the mind-body connection. In some conditions, a person’s belief can dramatically eliminate their symptoms (some fatigue, some pain conditions, warts). In others belief is important, but more limited (cancer, fractures, bacterial infections). We know, however, from a hundred years of experience, that popular perceptions of effectiveness are very unreliable. Individual physician’s perceptions of effectiveness are equally unreliable.
Hundreds of popular remedies have been found, on careful study, to be ineffective or even harmful. Most of the medicines we used to treat a kind of bad heart rhythm during the 1970s and 1980s have been found to be dangerous and ineffective. Many heart specialists and patients believed very strongly that those were good medicines.
It took a lot of time and money to prove otherwise. Herbal remedies and many folk remedies have not survived even the weak scientific testing that researchers used in the 1920s, much less today’s standards of study. If and when they do, they stop being alternative medicines and become part of our scientific therapies. If all of today’s “alternative medicines” were completely inactive, their widespread use would be only a modest problem.
If a person believes in a remedy, and if that remedy is truly harmless, then using it will improve most conditions by about a third, and clear some up completely. Unfortunately, we have reason to believe that they’re not all inactive. Plants produce a wide variety of complex chemicals that mimic substances use by our own bodies. Many powerful medicines, poisons, and hallucinogens have been derived from plants. Evolution seems to have a somewhat limited range of designs, and tends to reuse molecular shapes in different species for different purposes.
These substances have every imagineable effect, from hallucinations to sedation, from quick death violent vomiting. Today’s herbal remedies are not likely to have obvious seriously harmful effects. Even though they’re completely unregulated and largely untested, that kind of obvious harm would get publicity.
Obvious harm is more likely to come to people with unusual sensitivities, or when a herbal medicine taken in unusual combinations with allopthic medications or other herbal remedies. More subtle problems, such as birth defects, neurologic damage, and cancer, will be much harder to spot. We just don’t know what these substances are doing.
They may be inactive, or they may have activity independent of their powerful belief effect. Their activity may match up with one of their advertised uses, or they may be effective for something completely different. They may be harmful in subtle or unsual ways. Toxic or beneficial effects will vary greatly from dose to dose; unmodified plant products do not have even the limited predictability of “traditional” medicines. People taking herbal remedies are engaged in a gigantic natural experiment with untested substances. We will find out many interesting things from the problems these “remedies” cause.
We’ll also learn of some beneficial effects, that will be studied and turned into medicines I’ll happily prescribe. Ultimately, I feel that adults (but not children), should have the right to do a lot of risky things — provided they are not deceived about the risks they are taking. Adults should be able to ski steep hills, eat fatty foods, take intoxicants when others are not at risk. Heck, they can even smoke if they do it outside. They can take all the odd drugs and herbs they want. But, they must be aware of what they’re doing.
They should know that a herbal remedy doesn’t come from the same heritage as an antibiotic sold in the same pharmacy. They should know that legality is not proof of safety or effectiveness. Informed adults should know when their physician is acting within the tradition of scientific medicine, and when they’re using other standards of evidence. They need to know they’re participating in a giant experiment. When these things are well known, let the herbalists proceed.
I’ll be watching carefully from the sidelines. Advantage and Disadvantages of Alternative Medicines There are reasons why people chose alternative medicine and reasons why they avoid it, preferring conventional medicine. Alternative medicine is safer than standard health treatments and usually works. It’s true that it can’t be used in severe conditions like car accidents or other severe emergencies, but be that as it may, there are enough situations in which alternative medicine is recommended.
When it comes to emotional and spiritual needs, non-conventional medicine may come up with the solution. Furthermore, it’s better for preventing illnesses than standard medicine. More and more physicians nowadays agree upon the benefits of alternative medicine and also even advise their clients to choose the best natural treatment for them. One of the advantages of alternative medicine is that it encompasses a broad range of therapies, treatments and products, thus the search for obtaining positive results doesn’t flow on a narrow path at all.
A pretty important disadvantage states the idea that, even though the expenses of using acupuncture or chiropractic are sometimes covered by health insurances, the majority of alternative treatments are not reimbursed. There are certain risks that come along with the usage of natural remedies.
Despite the use of herbs throughout the years and even ancient times, not all of them have been studied regarding their safety and efficiency. There are issues concerning their purity and their possible interaction with other substances related to conventional therapies. The majority of information regarding herbs have been perpetuated throughout history and with the help of tradition. Many people assume that herbal medicines are better than synthetic drugs simply because, well, they are natural and not synthetic, therefore present no risk. But they are not risk free;
they can do more harm than good if taken without having the details of their effects over the body. People might abuse of natural medicines the same way as they do it in the case of synthetic drugs. They have the misconception that if unconventional medicine consists of herbal products which are natural, then there is no harm done if they triple the dosage or more. This is totally wrong and can have serious consequences. Take vitamins for example. They are just vitamins, right? They can’t possibly do any damage inside the body.
But they do. Vitamin overdosing or vitamin toxicity can lead to unpleasant effects depending on the vitamin that has been taken one too many times. Vitamin A over dosage can cause liver problems, osteoporosis, hair loss and other dangerous effects and Hypervitaminosis D leads to dehydration, vomiting, anorexia and even kidney stones. An advantage of using herbal remedies concerns the effectiveness related with chronic health issues that don’t respond well or even at all to traditional medicines.
If long term medication is needed, then herbs are pretty much safer than conventional drugs. The alternative medicine industry takes advantage from this and keeps evolving and developing due to the constant need for natural remedies. Another advantage is the low cost of herbal products compared to synthetic drugs which are highly priced for the simple reason that researching and testing the products is expensive.
Furthermore, herbal products can be bought without a prescription and are easy to procure. The availability of natural remedies is outstanding; chamomile for example can be easily picked out from a nearby field. The advantages of using herbal medicines are numerous, but so are the disadvantages.
The best idea would be to consider modern medicine according to the severity of the illness, to consult a physician upon the proper medication and dosage and if you do chose the alternative medicine, try to gather enough information upon both kinds of treatments, natural or synthetic, so you may reassure yourself that you took the right decision to balance your health situation.
oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo oooooooooooo More in: WIKIPEDIA The scientific community has criticized alternative medicine as being based on misleading statements, quackery, pseudoscience, antiscience, fraud, or poor scientific methodology. Promoting alternative medicine has been called dangerous and unethical.
Testing alternative medicine has been called a waste of scarce medical research resources. Critics have said “there is really no such thing as alternative medicine, just medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t”, or “Can there be any reasonable ‘alternative’ (to medicine based on science)? ” Potential side-effect Conventional treatments are subjected to testing for undesired side-effects, whereas alternative treatments, in general, are not subjected to such testing at all.
Any treatment – whether conventional or alternative – that has a biological or psychological effect on a patient may also have potential to possess dangerous biological or psychological side-effects. Attempts to refute this fact with regard to alternative treatments sometimes use the appeal to nature fallacy, i. e. , “that which is natural cannot be harmful”. An exception to the normal thinking regarding side-effects is Homeopathy. Since 1938, the U. S.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulated homeopathic products in “several significantly different ways from other drugs. “ Homeopathic preparations, termed “remedies”, are extremely dilute, often far beyond the point where a single molecule of the original active (and possibly toxic) ingredient is likely to remain.
They are, thus, considered safe on that count, but “their products are exempt from good manufacturing practice requirements related to expiration dating and from finished product testing for identity and strength”, and their alcohol concentration may be much higher than allowed in conventional drugs. 
Treatment delay Those having experienced or perceived success with one alternative therapy for a minor ailment may be convinced of its efficacy and persuaded to extrapolate that success to some other alternative therapy for a more serious, possibly life-threatening illness.  For this reason, critics argue that therapies that rely on the placebo effect to define success are very dangerous.
According to mental health journalist Scott Lilienfeld in 2002, “unvalidated or scientifically unsupported mental health practices can lead individuals to forgo effective treatments” and refers to this as “opportunity cost”. Individuals who spend large amounts of time and money on ineffective treatments may be left with precious little of either, and may forfeit the opportunity to obtain treatments that could be more helpful.
In short, even innocuous treatments can indirectly produce negative outcomes.  Between 2001 and 2003, four children died in Australia because their parents chose ineffective naturopathic, homeopathic, or other alternative medicines and diets rather than conventional therapies.  Unconventional cancer “cures” There have always been “many therapies offered outside of conventional cancer treatment centers and based on theories not found in biomedicine. These alternative cancer cures have often been described as ‘unproven,’ suggesting that appropriate clinical trials have not been conducted and that the therapeutic value of the treatment is unknown. “
However, “many alternative cancer treatments have been investigated in good-quality clinical trials, and they have been shown to be ineffective…. The label ‘unproven’ is inappropriate for such therapies; it is time to assert that many alternative cancer therapies have been ‘disproven’. ” Take Caution With Alternative Medicines The popularity of alternative, or complementary, medicine has increased rapidly in the recent years. There are a number of different reasons why people consult alternative practitioners.
But by far the most common reason is dissatisfaction with what orthodox medicine has to offer. Patients are frightened by the high incidence of side effects known to be associated with the use of modern drugs and surgical techniques; they are annoyed by the lack of time and courtesy offered to them by many doctors; and they are attracted by the promises of a sympathetic manner and of what they assume to be risk-free therapies that are associated with alternative practitioners. There is little doubt in my mind that the dissatisfaction with orthodox medicine is well-founded in many cases.
There is now ample evidence available to show that medical school trained practitioners can often be more interested in their research programs than in the welfare of their patients, and more interested in the science of medicine than the art of healing. The boom years of alternative medicine have seen the development of a vast number of specialties. Some are ancient, others are relatively modern; some are symptomatic, others are designed to improve the overall health of the individual; some are based on mental powers, others are used purely on physical ailments.
Some techniques are logical, while most I find are irrational and illogical. There has been an explosion in the number of practitioners offering alternative medicine services. Almost everyone knows somebody, who knows somebody who claims to be a “holistic doctor. ” For the individual patient wanting to take advantage of the services offered by these alternative practitioners there is one enormous problem: how to tell the difference between the well-qualified practitioner and the out-and-out quack. Surprising though it may seem, there are few laws about just who can or cannot practice alternative medicine.
And there are no laws to prevent individuals from setting themselves up as training establishments or “colleges” and offering diplomas by post to students prepared to part with the appropriate fee. It is possible for someone with absolutely no training to leave their factory or office job on Friday evening and set up shop as an alternative medicine practitioner on Monday morning! In the afternoon the same practitioner can even open his or her own training school! Many alternative medicine practitioners offer an excellent and valuable service. I am an enthusiastic supporter of many types of alternative medicine.
But we must not ignore the fact that there are practitioners offering their services today who couldn’t pass a basic biology exam. Some of them know virtually nothing about anatomy or physiology. Unfortunately, this means there are plenty of practitioners around who are a definite menace and a danger to the health of their patients. Some of those who practice alternative medicine claim that their treatments are entirely safe. This is not true. There are a number of very real dangers associated with all types of alternative medicine.
First, there are the intrinsic dangers associated with alternative therapies even when they are practiced competently. Natural remedies are, in most cases, drugs. They act on the body and its organs in the same way a drug would. Secondly, there is the very real risk that because of a poor training an alternative practitioner will make an incorrect diagnosis and treat a patient improperly.
For example, in one well-documented case a 22-year-old woman died of tuberculosis after being treated with Epsom salts, herbs and a fruit diet by an alternative medicine practitioner who thought she was constipated. Thirdly, there is the equally real risk that a treatment offered by an alternative practitioner will interact dangerously with a treatment offered simultaneously by a medical doctor. Prescribed drugs and herbal products are, for example, likely to produce a dangerous response.
Patients should always tell their doctors when seeing alternative practitioners. Fourthly, there is the problem that alternative practitioners are not usually available at night or at weekends. This means that in an emergency the patient of such a practitioner may be left to fend for him or herself. In the past those who have written about alternative medicine have fallen into two clearly defined categories.
On the one hand there have been those who have dismissed all alternative remedies as irrational and irrelevant. On the other hand there have been those who have praised and supported all aspects of alternative medicine without reservation or criticism. Some doctors have claimed that all alternative practitioners are ignorant and useless.
Some alternative therapists claim that they have all the answers to all medical problems. I believe that the truth lies somewhere in between those two extremes. Some forms of alternative medicine are dangerous and useless, other alternative solutions are relatively safe and effective.
Some alternative practitioners are rogues, anxious only to make money out of their patients; others are honest, honorable and responsible. First, remember that orthodox medical practitioners are undoubtedly the best equipped to deal with acute conditions. In an emergency of any kind I suggest that patients call their own primary care physician or visit the nearest hospital.
Where there is doubt about a diagnosis then a visit to a medical professional is essential. Alternative therapists are sometimes poor at making diagnoses and can, on occasions, make very serious errors. oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
oooooo Alternative medicine is a term for the practices that do not belong to the conventional medicine and whose effectiveness has not consistently been proved. It is based on superstitious notions, religious or pseudoscientific, and therefore, it is opposed to the conventional medicine based on evidence and scientific proofs.
Some of these practices are, for instance, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, massage and osteopathy. The main advantage (of what? ) is alternative medicine can provide health benefits, by offering more choices to the public, including treatments that are simply not available in conventional medicine.
Besides, another advantage is that some patients believe that alternative medicine can help them with chronic diseases, for which conventional medicine offers no cure, but only palliative care. On the other hand, a major objection to alternative medicine is that sometimes it is used in place of conventional treatments.
As a result, it is not enough to cure the illness. What is more, pharmaceutical research is more lucrative than alternative medicine research, so there are is more interest in the first option. In conclusion, if the use of alternative medicine can improve the patients’ health, it will be joined with the conventional medicine.