Alternative Medicine - What's the growing appeal? Part 1 of 4

Alternative Medicine - What's the growing appeal? Part 1 of 4

Most medical practitioners still have their doubts about alternative medicine and therapies but recent research has shown it is becoming more popular. The medical industry believe it is untested, unsafe and ‘a phase people are going through’ rather than a serious medical breakthrough.

So what is alternative medicine? Well it is quite difficult to define as it is not considered a ‘medical’ industry. Wikipedia defines Alternative medicine as “practices that differ from conventional medicine.” This includes homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic and herbal medicine.

Regulation

This is also an issue as anyone can call themselves an alternative practitioner whilst conventional doctors prove their status through lengthy studies and tests.

The UK government has now requested all chiropractors and osteopaths to register with a statutory body and prove their qualifications. Those who offer homeopathy and yoga can register voluntarily but it is not mandatory. Even though registration shows competency it doesn’t mean the practice actually works.

So What Is The Growing Appeal Of Alternative Medicine?

1. Mis-trust or reduced faith in conventional medicine and willingness to try something new.

2. Relatively inexpensive to purchase alternative medicines as most are freely available.

3. A more personal diagnosis and treatment plans are written in depth by an alternative practitioner compared to a quick trip to the doctor.

4. Alternative medicine can work alongside conventional medicine.

5. Alternative medicine looks for a long time cure rather than treating a problem as a one-off.

What Is Alternative Medicine Used For?

People seldom seek out alternative medicine when they have an emergency but they can help in long term illnesses or in situations where you are unable to take most conventional medicine such as pregnancy.

Pregnancy sickness and other related symptoms cannot be treated by most conventional medicine as it is considered unlicensed or unsafe to the unborn foetus. There are a few medicines for sickness related to hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme pregnancy sickness) but aside from nibbling a ginger biscuit there is little relief. Women have resorted to trying anything including alternative medicine and therapies. Acupuncture and acupressure for leg cramps and sickness, yoga for the joints and Bach flower remedies for panic and labour pains.

The Future Of Alternative Medicine

Dr Monckton, director of the UK Research Council for Complementary Medicine, believes it is difficult to judge whether some procedures are conventional or classed as “alternative”.

“It’s a process of evolution so what is yesterday’s fringe is today’s alternative, tomorrow’s complementary and ultimately it becomes conventional,” he said.

“For example - take dentistry. At the turn of the century, dentistry was complete fringe medicine, but look at it now - wholly conventional.”

Although alternative medicine is heard of there is much education to be spread in acceptance of it amongst the medical community.