Alternative medicine is a loose term that covers a wide variety of health related practices. Unfortunately, as with any good idea gone bad with overexposure, today people are not only confused about the real value of alternative medicine but are wasting their money and sometimes endangering their health by following the wrong alternative medicine practice or procedure.
Let us examine the most common forms of alternative medicine. The accepted term for alternative medicine, per the National Institute of Health is actually Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and this is the term we will use throughout.
CAM as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine. Conventional medicine is practiced by physicians licensed and educated in the established and accredited medical system in a country. So for the US it is the American Medical Association and the medical degrees given by the Universities called MD’s. CAM includes homeopathy, herbalism, Ayurvedic (India) and Acupuncture (Chinese) medical practices.
Practicitioners of CAM have established a separate set of procedures that they employ in conjunction with conventional medicine–this is the Complementary part of CAM and includes Acupunture, Yoga and Physician-recommended (not prescribed) diet and vitamin supplements.
DOES CAM WORK?
Generally it does but there is no established scientific data on any of it. No one can definitively say it does or does not. Most so called evidence and clinical testing is fraught with good intentions but bad testing. For example, there is no known double blind study of any homeopathic medicines. At the most you will hear the term “clinical trials” which are often paid-for tests that are not considered scientific or random enough.So for the most part CAM is what is called a placebo-influenced healing medium.
HOW TO USE CAM FOR YOUR BENEFIT
Forget CAM as a medicinal aid, and use it for lifestyle change. So if you are taking homeopathic or holistic medicine, do not believe the person who is dispensing it for its curative powers because it is hearsay and has not a shred of evidence. However, the good thing is, it can do no harm, since, unlike prescription medicine, it does not have potency. Second you can influence change by changing over to a healthy lifestyle and when you have achieved the desired outcome, whether weight loss, or stress management or correct posture, discard the medicine.
The best cure for most ailments is diet and a healthy lifestyle, accompanied with properly prescribed diagnosis and testing by a medical doctor.
Alternative medicines are nice, but only to aid lifestyle change, not for their curative powers.