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How alternative medicine complements conventional treatment

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When we fall ill or want to seek health advice we usually seek certified medical doctors, who practice conventional allopathic treatment through prescription drugs and surgery. But as traditional medical help can be costly, produce side-effects, result in drugs induced organ damage, and also fail - many people turn to Complementary and Alternative medicine (CAM).
Alternative medicine comprises of homeopathy, naturopathy, traditional Chinese medicine including acupuncture, and mind-body techniques such as hypnotherapy, energy therapy, spirituality, yoga, and herbal therapy. It doesn't claim to replace conventional treatment - instead it is often used to control side-effects, pain, and improve sense of wellbeing in a patient.    

Studies, recording and reporting on this trend, suggest that dissatisfaction with conventional treatment; need for personal control; and compatibility with beliefs and values are the three major reasons why patients use alternative medicine and therapies to complement conventional medicine or even in isolation.


Alternative medicine How it complements traditional medicine

In essence, the different alternative medicine techniques and products aim to naturally cleanse the body of toxins, focus on healthy diet, and use the human body's natural energy and ability for self-healing.

These are varied wellbeing and medical healthcare practices and products in alternative medicine that are not currently included in conventional medicine. For some of these practices and products there is scientific evidence and they are safe, for others the evidence is inconclusive.
But alternative medicine is a highly popular choice for millions of people across the world for prevention, control, and post-conventional treatment for disease management.
Breathing techniques, acupuncture, diet changes, and naturally potent herbs are frequently used techniques in the prevention and control of diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, stress, cardiovascular disease, and a host of other health problems.


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How to use alternative medicine

Patients who want to make a decision regarding choosing a particular alternative medicine treatment should consider the safety and possible benefit of the treatment. Another major consideration is how it could interact with conventional treatments such as chemotherapy.

Strict diet, herbal medicine, and meditation could change the body's metabolism and clear the after-effects of powerful drugs and other invasive treatments carried out in conventional medicine. At the same time, as alternative medicine and a procedure such as chemotherapy are not tested for use when used in combination - the intervention of alternative medicine could interfere with the beneficial effects of chemotherapy or perhaps increase the risk of toxic side effects.

It's best to use alternative medicine after due consultation with a doctor in conventional medicine. Today, many doctors are advising processes such as meditation, change in lifestyle and diet, and use of natural foods with medicinal properties - to control symptoms, in prevention, and in post-operative and recovery stage.

Four out of 10 people use alternative treatment in the US

In a recent wide-ranging study 'Why Patients Use Alternative Medicine,' published in the American Medical Association in the US - about 40 per cent of the respondents reported using some type of alternative healthcare in the last one year. The top four treatment categories were: chiropractic, lifestyle diet, excercice/movement, and relaxation. The most commonly treated health problems treated with alternative therapies were chronic pain, anxiety, chronic fatgue syndrome, muscle sprains, addictive problems, arthritis and headaches.

In fact, there exists, substantial cross-section of people who rely primarily on alternative medicine and alternative treatments as they: distrust conventional doctors and hospitals; desire control over health issues; and belief of values and inner life for wellbeing - reported the study.
When those surveyed were asked about perceived benefits of using alternative medicine, the respondents said, "I get relief from my symptoms, the pain or discomfort is less or goes away, I feel better." Some said, "The treatment works better for my particular health problem than standard medicine." A particularly insightful response was, "The treatment promotes health rather than just focusing on illness." 
This study validates the trend of use of alternative medicine, and provides evidence for healthcare professionals, policy planners as well as healthcare seekers as to why a significant portion of the population in the US is moving away from mainstream medicine to get themselves treated for a variety of illnesses and improve wellbeing.    
The same is the trend in India, as patients across socio-economic profiles seek modes of alternative therapies to resolve minor and major health issues and disease.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: May 28, 2014

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