Alternative medicine is a practice of medicine that prevents or treats disease or ailments without the use of drugs or undergoing diagnostic procedures. It includes chiropractic, acupuncture, yoga, use of medicinal plants, homeopathy, meditation, massage and anything that requires self awareness and belief that the body can heal itself.
The use of alternative medicine is fast growing despite the result of many clinical studies showing its side effects and adverse reactions especially when combined with other procedure. It is therefore important that health care seekers should inform their health care provider of their present condition and current treatment to prevent unfavorable interaction of different treatment modality.
The world of medicine faces a continuous challenge on how to uplift the level of health care in the country. There are organizations that spend a lot of money to provide the best drug that can cure certain illness. Several funding companies are searching for the best medication. Clinical trials are continuously conducting studies for the drug development. A variety of medical methods have been accepted by medical practice due to many scientific explanations for their effectiveness and most often than not, these procedures cost a lot of money.
However, absence of side effects and adverse reactions is not an assurance. There are also incidents of unsatisfied medical treatment outcome. Medical lawsuits are becoming rampant nowadays resulting to decline in conventional health visits. In accordance, several health care methods are becoming more accepted as a way of battling ailments. These factors add to the popularity of alternative medicine.
Although many people in less developed countries have used alternative medicine, it has not proven to cause 100% therapeutic effect. Many medical literatures have been discussing alternative medicine with complementary medicine. It should be remembered that alternative medicine is a practice used in place of conventional medicine while complementary medicine is an alternative medicine with concurrent use of conventional medicine.
Conventional medicine is medicine practiced by professionals such as Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and other allied health professionals like physical therapist, psychologist and registered nurse. It is also known as Western medicine, orthodox, biomedicine or regular medicine.
In a study conducted by Barnes and colleagues (2002), the use of complementary and alternative medicine among adults in United States has been revealed. They collected data from the noninstitutionalized population using a computer-assisted personal interview among adults age 18 and above.
They found out that 60% of the adults were using some form of complementary and alternative medicine. The most commonly used therapies were use of prayer for health , natural products, deep breathing exercises, meditation, chiropractic care, yoga , massage , and diet-based therapies. Ernst (2000) revealed in his research the 9% to 65% prevalence of use of complementary/alternative medicine. The given form for treatment was chiropractic in the USA but showed considerable discrepancies.
The study suggests that complementary/alternative medicine therapies are frequently used and increasing. “The true prevalence of use of complementary/alternative medicine in the general population remains uncertain”.
Alternative medicine has been practiced from eastern to western part of the world from 2,000-6,000 years of history (Dworkin, 2006). The definition and scope of alternative medicine is so broad that falls into one definition; a practice of medicine which requires self-awareness, treatment or prevention of disease without the use of expensive drugs and need not undergo through the high cost of diagnostic procedures. It includes all healing approaches that do not use the conventional Western medicine.
Alternative medicine includes acupuncture, aromatherapy, Ayurveda medicine, Chinese medicine, chiropractic, herbal medicine, homeopathy, massage, meditation, naturopathy, therapeutic touch and Yoga.