Alternative Medicine?

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practices

Consumer interest in alternative medical practices has been around for several decades – the last known data acknowledges that at least 34% of people recently surveyed in the U.S. used some type of alternative, complementary and integrative medicine in the past year. This resulted in about $30 billion generated to this industry. (2016 Data)

Most alternative medicine consumers have illnesses for which conventional medicine cannot offer a cure, such as arthritis, terminal stages of AIDS, and stress-related conditions. The mind is a powerful component of many of the treatments, which is proven in many trials as a placebo effect. There are lots of possible reasons that something like a folk medicine or a homeopathic preparation may work. In addition to belief of the mind-body effects of the “medication” as well as the normal ups and downs of symptoms, the remission of the disease, the denial of symptoms or misrepresentation of effectiveness by people who believe the remedy is effective. The body can be a powerful healer under the right conditions.

Many clients wish physicians would take the time to explain (in simple terms) the nature of the problem, to acknowledge nutritional influences on health, rather than just recommend drugs and surgery as the only approaches for treating illness; to answer questions about dietary supplements, be sensitive to mind-body interactions, and to respect questions about alternative therapies. My Granddaughter is in her second year of medical school – I will be anxious to hear how and if she receives any of these practices in her training.

To date, few alternative therapies have been subjected to scientific scrutiny, and many of the practices are based on presumptions that are unconvincing at best, yet some, e.g. acupuncture and chiropractic show promise in certain conditions.

Herbal medicine.   By definition, an herb is a plant or any of its parts that is used primarily for medicinal purposes. This includes aromatherapy. Dosage forms include capsules, tablets, extracts, or tinctures, powders, teas, creams, and ointments. In March 1999, FDA established regulations that require the labels of such supplements to include name, quantity, dosage per day, and ingredient amounts.

Fraudulent claims for diet-and health related remedies have always been a part of our culture. It is important to scrutinize the credentials and motives of anyone providing medical or health advice. “Let the buyer beware.” Unfortunately, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Reference: Gordon M. Wardlaw. Contemporary Nutrition, Issues, and Insights. Fifth Edition.

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