What Is Alternative Health Care?

If you’re wondering about alternative health care, you’re not alone. The fact that the question “what is alternative health care?” is being asked more and more suggest that many people are becoming disillusioned with traditional health care.

Whether you’re thinking of trying something different or just curious about alternative health care, I’ll try to explain it to you.

What Is Alternative Health Care In A Nut Shell?

Alternative health care depends on practices for healing that are different than traditional western medicine. They tend to be more holistic and include remedies like acupuncture, herbal medicines, yoga, and chiropratic care.

In a nut shell traditional medicine practices focus on treating specific symptoms with medicines and surgeries. Whereas alternative health care seeks a more holistic approach that includes promoting overall health and wellness by looking at the whole person. That would include a look at the body, mind, and spirit in order to promote a more overall healthy person.

One example of this is when special diets or other alternative therapies are used instead of the conventional treatments for cancer such as surgery or chemotherapy.

These alternative health care practices are not usually recognized by the medical profession as conventional medical methods.

Some Alternative Medicine Practices

Here are some examples of alternative medicine practices:

  • Acupuncture – Inserting thin needles into specific points on the body.
  • Herbal Medicine – Using plants and plant extracts for healing.
  • Chiropractic Care – Adjusting the spine and other parts of the body.
  • Yoga – Combining physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation.
  • Homeopathy – Using highly diluted substances to stimulate the body’s healing.
  • Naturopathy – Focusing on natural remedies and the body’s ability to heal itself.
  • Ayurveda – An ancient Indian system of medicine using diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing.
  • Meditation – Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
  • Massage Therapy – Manipulating the body’s muscles and tissues.
  • Reiki – Using energy healing to promote balance and wellness.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – Combining acupuncture, herbal medicine, and other practices.
  • Aromatherapy – Using essential oils for therapeutic benefits.
  • Reflexology – Applying pressure to specific points on the feet, hands, or ears.

Complementary Health Care

This describes the practice of combining traditional health care methods together with an alternative health care therapy. For example, acupuncture is often used for patients suffering side effects caused by the traditional treatments for cancer, or aromatherapy being used to decrease patient discomfort after a medical procedure.

Categories of Complementary Health

Complementary and alternative health care consist of five main categories.

1) Alternative medical systems

These are complete systems built around theory and practice that evolved earlier than conventional medicine.

These include homeopathic, naturopathic, traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.

2) Mind-body interventions

This type of therapy uses techniques that are said to enhance the minds ability to have a positive influence on the body’s function and symptoms.

These include hypnotherapy, meditation and biofeedback.

3) Biologically based therapies

These are therapies that use natural substances such as herbs antioxidants and dietary supplements.

One of the most commonly used natural products is fish oil.

4) Manipulative body-based systems

These methods are based on manipulation or movement of parts of the body.

These include the practices of chiropractic manipulation, reflexology, osteopathic and Therapeutic massage.

5) Energy Therapies

These therapies involve energy fields that are believed to surround and penetrate the human body.

Examples of these treatments include therapeutic touch, qi gong, music therapy and reiki.

Integrative Medical Treatment

Integrative is the term used when conventional and complementary approaches to health care are brought together in a coordinated way.

The use of integrative therapy methods is increasing within health care facilities and combines the best of both types of medical care.

The providers of integrative medicine encourage shared decision making between themselves and their patients regarding particular treatments.

Integrative health care treatments accentuate a patient-focused, almost holistic approach to wellness. This method treats the whole person by treating the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of a patient.

When health care is integrative it is unique because it aims for well-coordinated care between diverse providers and institutions. All care relating to the patient is shared between team members and it establishes a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses the physical the psychological and the social needs of the patient.

Alternative Health Care is adapting to traditional cancer treatments

Large studies have been conducted on integrative medicine and some have been found to be a useful boost to conventional medicine, especially in the cancer clinics that are integrative medical facilities.

Some of the natural therapies studied and used in the treatment of cancer and in these facilities include:

  • acupuncture
  • aromatherapy
  • meditation
  • therapeuti
  • massage
  • biofeedback

However, researchers agree that much more needs to be known about the effects these products or applications have on the body. Their concerns usually relate to the safety and potential interactions when combined with pharmaceutical medicines.

Holistic Health Care Is Nothing New

The development and use of natural products and therapies has been in use for thousands of years. However their use decreased with the discovery of penicillin last century.

The main killers at this time in our history were infectious disease and Antibiotics proved to be the miracle treatment and eliminator of many infectious diseases.

It is only in the last few decades that alternative medicine has become popular again.

The proven adverse side effects of many of the pharmaceutical drugs that are used in traditional medicine are adding to their popularity.

Safety and Regulation of Alternative Health Care

The main problem with acceptance of alternative complementary medicine is the unknown or untested, at least by accepted testing methodologies. Some of these products, in spite of being natural, can also have a negative reaction on the body and our health.

The fact that more and more scientific research is being carried out on the combination of complementary and traditional medicine can only lead to a more preventive and safer healing health system.

In conclusion, alternative health care offers a holistic approach to wellness, focusing on the whole person rather than just treating symptoms.

Practices like acupuncture, herbal medicine, yoga, and chiropractic care, provides various options for anyone seeking methods different from traditional Western medicine or to compliment them.

While alternative health care practices are not always recognized by mainstream medicine, ongoing research aims to ensure their safety and effectiveness.

As interest in these methods grows, they continue to provide valuable options for promoting overall health and well-being.

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