Alternative medicine is any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine, but does not originate from evidence gathered using the scientific method, is not part of biomedicine, or is contradicted by scientific evidence or established science.
Alternative medicine means different things to different people. It encompasses many different approaches from massage to Chinese medicine and yoga and it simply means practices or medicines that are used instead of the usual, or standard, ways of treating diseases or illness. Examples of complementary and alternative medicine are meditation, yoga, and dietary supplements like vitamins and herbs. Alternative medicine means that it is different to the dominant health care system and potentially can replace it.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is the oldest continuously practiced medical system in the world and is used by one third of the world’s population as a primary health care system. Health is defined as a state of physical well being, mental alertness, socially adjusted, and spiritually developed. Health care is not about drugs and the cost of drugs.
Conventional medicine is continuing to lose market share. More and more people want options beyond what many consider to be essentially a high-tech slash, burn and poison medicine. Conventional medicine is used to describe the services that treat the symptoms of a disease or illness with prescribed medications and surgeries. Conventional medicine treats the ailing part of the body but may not address the underlying causes of the illness or disease.
Traditional practitioners don’t express hopefulness when their medicine fails as they treat diseases first and then people secondly. On the other hand alternative practitioners, often encourage patients to be hopeful even when the situation is hopeless as they aim to treat the mind, body and soul of their patient.
Medicine is directly related to the biomedicine and health sciences. The term ‘Medicine’ today refers to the fields of surgery, clinical medicine and the medical research. Medical mistakes appear to be increasing, and if they are not, then at the very least, the publicizing of them is increasing. It makes people wary.
Herbal medicine is a booming industry in the United States. The American market for herbal remedies has doubled the last couple of years. Herbs may be harmful if taken for the wrong conditions, used in excessive amounts, combined with prescription drugs or alcohol, or used by persons who don’t know what they are doing. Just because an herbal remedy is natural, does not mean it is safe!
Acupuncture needles are usually inserted to a depth of about a quarter of an inch into the skin. The therapist gently twists or twirls them for up to 10 minutes, leaving them in five to 20 minutes longer; or stimulates them with a weak electrical current; or heats them with a burning herb such as mugwort (see moxibustion). Acupuncture was used as an illustration of medical irrationality before James Reston’s fortuitous appendicitis brought it to the United States. From the impact of the LaLeche League on the advisability of breast-feeding to current studies of botanical medicines such as ginger, echinacea and ginkgo biloba, folk and alternative medicines have continuously influenced medical research and practice.