There must really be something to alternative medicine that makes more people open to the idea of using it. People either use complementary and alternative medicine alone or in addition to more traditional practices like exercise or conventional medicine like prescription drugs. But similar to most things in life and medicine, and regardless of whether they are natural or conventional, it’s always a good idea to know the pros and cons before trying something out.
Pros of Alternative Medicine
When used accordingly, alternative medicine can offer significant benefits for improving and maintaining holistic being.
- Targets the root cause. Most alternative and complementary medicine are used not only to treat the symptoms of the health condition but the root cause of it. Some of the procedures and remedies that are known for targeting the root cause of problems are acupuncture, herbs, massage, diet and exercise, and the like.
- The approach is holistic. Alternative medicine focuses on treating the whole person, not only the health condition. This means that whatever alternative remedy the practitioners advise the patient to take is a customized approach to cater to all of the patient’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs. This, according to the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, may be why alternative and complementary medicine is making its way up.
- Pays personal attention. Imagine finding someone a gift, and not knowing so much about a person; most likely, you’ll pick the wrong gift. In the same way, alternative medicine practitioners take time to know the patient more in order to better treat him/her.
- Emphasizes prevention. Conventional medicine is often focused on curing an existing problem while alternative and complementary medicine focus on prevention. Most practitioners persuade patients to have “well visits,” scheduled appointments when the patient isn’t sick.
- Reduces stress. Most alternative therapies reduce stress and emotional tension, helping to prevent or heal illnesses. Conventional medicine does not always prioritize this.
Cons of Alternative Medicine
Ask a professional whether the alternative medicine is suitable for your health condition and lifestyle because the following are drawbacks of alternative medicine.
- Scientific research on alternative medicine is limited. Compared to conventional medical procedures, scientific research and studies on alternative medicine is still very limited. Funding for alternative medicine studies, however, are growing with the help of private sources. For the meantime, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) advises that people ask health care providers or physicians, and visit the archives of NCCAM’s research on their website.
- Confusion in marketing. When it comes to observing marketing campaigns, it’s best to be a bit skeptical about it. Some health and wellness companies may use fillers or unrealistic taglines; oftentimes they say their products are natural when they are not necessarily all natural. It’s best that the viewer or potential patient become more objective about these campaigns by keeping in mind that, just because the company says something is natural, doesn’t mean it’s entirely safe. It’s best that the potential patient does his/her own research about the remedy or product he/she is planning to take. A few agencies’ websites like the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may have information about it.
- Possible interference with prescription drugs. Some alternative medicine or herbs, despite not containing artificial substances, can still interact negatively with prescription drugs. The best way to find out if an alternative medicine will work for you is to ask for an opinion from a professional alternative medicine practitioner who is also a medical doctor.