Alternative medicine does not refer to one alternative but is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of holistic approaches that treats the body as a whole. It includes Siddha, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Acupuncture etc. It believes that the body is not just a set of parts put together, but the parts put together make up a whole that is unique. Alternative medicine believes that the body has a specific state of balance, which is necessary to ensure that the body stays in a state of health. When there is an imbalance in this state is when we tend to fall sick. Makes sense?
Have you ever wondered why people turn to alternative treatment? The most common answer seems to be that it is because western medicine had failed them. But on the other hand there are also extreme skeptics, who believe that alternative medicine is a waste of time and diagnosis of curable diseases gets delayed because of it. Studies also show that most people do not turn to complementary and alternative medicine because they are dissatisfied with their current western treatments but because it aligns with the principles that they choose to live life by.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE AND WESTERN MEDICINE
1. Disease orientation: Western medicine believes that a disease or disorder is organ or body-part specific, but complementary medicine believes that it is due to signs in and around the body that one falls sick.
2. Health orientation: Conventional medicine claims that when the person does not have a disease they are healthy. Alternative medicine believes that when there is a balance between the energies in the body is when a person can be called healthy.
3. Therapeutic Process:Complementary and alternative medicine therapists are usually extremely averse towards western medicine. They believe in promoting the health inducing forces in the body in comparison to western medicine which believes they reduce and eradicate the disease causing forces.
4. Patient involvement : In complementary medicine, the patient’s mindset and active participation is very important to ensure that they come back to health but in western medicine the patient just does whatever the practitioner tells them to do and is merely just a recipient of treatment.
3 KEY ELEMENTS OF COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVTREATMENT
1. Holistic Treatment:
People are slowly starting to realize that the body as a whole is crucial to one’s health and that a sickness in one part of the body does not necessarily mean the failure of that body part alone. It means that there is an imbalance within the entire body which has led to the physical resurfacing of that imbalance in one part. Alternative treatment promotes whole body care along with emotional and spiritual growth and understanding.
2. Personalized treatment:
Patients of alternative treatment usually tend to receive one on one care from therapists due to their belief in whole body care which includes the spiritual, emotional and physical aspects of the patients. Western medicine doctors can tend to be pressurized by insurance companies or other factors.
3. Prevention Treatment :
Western medicine tends to involve intervention once the disease has already developed or been diagnosed. Yes, there are vaccinations for polio and other viruses but other than that it does not really focus on prevention. Unlike this, alternative treatment believes that prevention is better than cure and encourages regular check-ups as well as treatment when the patient is sick.
Many patients believe that holistic treatments work better. Complementary and alternative medicine followers strongly believe that their eating habits, lifestyle, sleep patterns and mental state have a huge impact on their health. They believe that their health is in their own hands. They also believe that the diagnosis process should be more inclusive of these other aspects of their life as well. Here are some more reasons why people resolve to complementary and alternative medicine:
1. Chronic illness:
Chronic illnesses such as cancer sometimes might not have any positive results from western medicine and makes patients feel worse than they did before the diagnosis. Alternative medicine has a strong psychological foundation, and helps people get through their illness with a more positive outlook.
2. No Side effects:
People would rather choose the more gentle and harmless treatment that has minimal side effects and pain. There is always the fact that what is less painful is not always effective. People sometimes prefer alternative medicine for its gentleness.
3. Failure of western medicine:
There are many reasons why patients are disappointed by western medicine. The most common reason seems to be that they are not too happy with the way they are treated and the nature of consultation.
4. Self-care orientation:
People want to learn how to become more self aware in the areas of wellness, prevention and fitness. Western medicine is seen as more disease oriented and focuses on subduing the causes and symptoms, with the help of chemicals and surgery. Alternative treatment focuses on wellness, balance and restoration, which is a more preferred treatment plan and outlook for many patients.
WHAT CONVENTIONAL MEDICINE CAN LEARN FROM ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE?
• Alternative medicine focuses on finding and treating the causes of disorder along with prevention unlike western medicine which focuses on the reduction of symptoms.
• Alternative medicine considers each person to be a unique and a more holistic approach. Conventional medicine on the other hand has a more divided body-part specific approach.
• Alternative medicine believes that the body can take care of itself and that long-term healing will allow the body to do so. Western medicine believes that diseases require quick-fixes and extreme interventions.
• Alternative medicine uses more gentle, massage and natural remedies to cure rather than more harsh chemicals and surgical intervention.
• Alternative medicine believes that each person is unique and treats the patient on the basis of what they think will suit them better rather than having a single approach for each disease like western medicine.
• Alternative medicine sees the body as a combination of various energies flowing through a number of channels, if there are any blockages in the seamless flow of these energies is when the diseases arise. Conventional medicine believes that most disorders are caused by a chemical imbalance, and can be countered with the help of pills, syrups and other drugs i.e. more chemicals.
• Alternative medicine encourages patients to be more vocal about their opinions and play an active role in the process of treatment while conventional medicine prefers the patients to just do as prescribed.
One of the major reasons why conventional medicine can’t always cure is because the doctors within the systems of medical, pharmaceutics and financial laws and politics. Yes, they do not wish to do their patients any harm but the fear of lawsuits, paperwork, sly pharmacists have an added burden, not allowing doctors to act to the best of their abilities sometimes even denying treatment.
People increasingly prefer alternative treatment because it is safe and is also effective! Western medicine is also highly effective, but should most commonly be used in the cases of traumas such as accidents and other emergencies. Alternative medicine is better in the cases of prevention and while treating the underlying spiritual, emotional and psychological causes of diseases. The fact that these treatments are still called “alternative” medicine is just a result of power play and politics. People have also started to realize that alternative medicine doesn’t have to be used to replace western medicine, it can complement it too.
Patients are seeking ways to play a more active role in their health and are looking for more drug-free, surgery free alternatives to improve their state of well-being. Patients immediately tend to feel better after visiting these therapists because of the psychological aspect of this treatment. But people are also beginning to realize that though alternative medicine is great in many aspects, it cannot clearly state the reasons behind the so-called imbalances that lead to these symptoms and disorders.
How do you feel about alternative treatments? Do you prefer it over western medicine? Let us know in the comment section below.