Complementary and alternative medicines are treatment of different forms which are used either alongside or instead of conventional medicines. Different types of each of the treatments exist and are practiced all over the world. There is also an extra method called integrative medicine which is used in combination with all the other forms of medicine. This paper will look at these types of therapeutic modalities and how they can be beneficial when used together with conventional medicine.
The term complementary simply means “in addition to” hence complementary treatment is used in addition to the doctor’s standard care (WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise, 2011). This means that the treatment can only be used after the doctor has given his diagnosis and proposed necessary treatment. An example of complementary treatment is acupuncture which has been used for generations in China (NCCAM, 2013). In countries like the United States this treatment is not standard and cannot be scientifically supported despite its effectiveness.
National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine requires that before a person tries this form of medication, they should consider why they are using the treatment and if they are comfortable with it (NCCAM), 2013). In most cases, people using complementary treatment are people with long terminal illnesses and have learnt how well it is likely to work. They are also comfortable with the mode that it is being offered. In the case of acupuncture, stimulation of the body is done using various techniques.
This mostly involves puncturing the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles manipulated by electricity or human hands. Millions of Americans use acupuncture annually to treat chronic pain though its value as a therapy faces a lot of controversy (NCCAM, 2013). The major risk involved with complementary treatment is that a person may stop going to the doctor as soon as they start feeling better though they may not be completely healed. This is the major reason why people are advised to still use conventional medicine in addition to complementary medicine.
Alternative medicine is mainly used in the place of conventional medicine. Some people prefer to use alternative methods instead of drugs. According to O'Mathúna, convectional medicine is taking an interest in alternative medicines (Dónal O'Mathúna, 2006). Practitioners have actually agreed that using an alternative method may be beneficial to patients if used with surgery and pharmaceuticals. An example of alternative treatment is Ayurvedic medicine also referred to as Ayurveda (NCCAM, 2013). This is one of the oldest medical systems in the world and originated in India evolving over the years. Alternative therapies have been said to work as complementary medicines in some parts of the world but in others they are used on their own to cure certain illnesses. Examples of treatments used on their own include special diets, massages and herbs (NCCAM, 2013). Like the complementary treatments, patients have to be aware of the effectiveness of the method they want to use and should be comfortable with it. The use of alternative therapy is also not scientifically proven even though practitioners are embracing it.
Integrative therapy is a form of medicine that incorporates all the other forms of treatment including conventional, complementary and alternative treatment (Rakel, 2012). By integrating it with other treatments, it gives a stronger base to the other treatment making them more successful. Most practitioners use integrative therapies with their patients and it has proven effective as well as more effective as opposed to conventional treatment on its own. An example of this therapy is Chelation therapy which is used by heart patients to get rid of excess metals in their blood (Rakel, 2012). This treatment used with other heart medication is effective for most heart related ailments.
Philosophy of CAM
Conventional medicine is the most common form of treatment and many people identify with it while on the other hand, only a few understand the philosophies, treatments and methods used in complementary and alternative medicine. Research has shown that CAM therapies can be used in the prevention of major illnesses like osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Cam therapies are grouped into five major domains; mind-body interventions, manipulative and body based methods, alternative medical systems, energy therapies and biologically-based treatments. Some of the treatments offered in the five domains are acupuncture, herbal medicines Ayurveda, massage therapy and osteopathy among others. Cam therapies are increasingly gaining populace and their effectiveness as well as safety is growing. The major aim of these therapies is prevention which the conventional medicines are not able to do. This is like in the case of cardiovascular diseases though at times CAM therapy is used alongside to treat the illness.
In conclusion, conventional medicine is important in the modern era but so are the other forms of treatment. As much as we are modern, these other forms of medicine either work with or help the conventional medicines to do their work. Statistically, patients who use complementary and alternative medicines alongside conventional treatment have higher chances to heal. Conventional medicine should give a chance to other forms of medicine to boost their effectiveness and strengthen them. Generally, in most cases, people who decide to use complementary treatment are those who suffer from long term illnesses. All these forms of medicine have one goal in common and that is to cure the patients. Basically whichever method is used, the end result is the wellness of the patient. Medical practitioners and specialists of alternative and complementary medicines should work together and not look down at each other’s form of practice. The use of alternative therapy is also not scientifically proven even though practitioners are embracing it.
The National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has documented these forms of medicine and has shown the benefits they have on. It is therefore advisable to use these methods of therapy but not ignore conventional medicine as well. Finally, it is proven that a combination of different methods is more effective than single treatments on its own.
- Dónal O'Mathúna, W. L. (2006). Alternative medicine. U.K: Zondervan.
- Major Domains of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (n. d.). Retrieved February 8, 2002, from http://nccam.nih.gov/fcp/classify/
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). (2013, January 09). Acupuncture. Retrieved June 30, 2013, from nccam.nih.gov: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture
- National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). (2013, April 01). Ayurveda. Retrieved June 30, 2013, from nccam.nih.gov: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/ayurveda
- Rakel, D. (2012). Integrative medicine. U.K: Elsevier Health Sciences.
- WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise. (2011, June 29). Health and balance. Retrieved June 30, 2013, from www.webmd.com: http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/complementary-medicine-topic-overview