Alternative Medicine – Necessity or Whim?

In this era of high technology, it is perhaps paradoxical that alternative healing techniques have become widespread. Treatment methods like acupuncture, yoga and Ayurvedic medicine that have been practiced since time immemorial have experienced a resurgence that is quite unexpected but not totally surprising. Along with these age-old medical systems are relatively newer techniques such as herbalism, homeopathy, naturopathy and holistic treatment methods that are meant to treat diseases as well as repair the human psyche. But do we really need these fancy cures?

While conventional medicine have progressed by leaps and bounds through the decades of the last century – with the advancements resulting in a very modern healthcare system that cures most of the dreaded illnesses of old – the fact remains that some diseases are as yet still incurable. AIDS along with other virus infections and many forms of cancers continue to plague humankind, and people suffering from these maladies are thus constrained to look elsewhere for relief. Often, sufferers of these dreaded ailments resort to alternative healing methods as a final, desperate measure for their terminal illnesses. Alternative medicine at the very least gives a glimmer of hope to patients diagnosed with diseases that are incurable as far as modern medicine is concerned, and as such, is considered a necessity.

For patients with less severe diseases, alternative medical systems are used as complementary tools in the healing process alongside conventional cures. For example, chiropractic practices such as spine manipulation integrated into regular physical therapy are useful in treating back pains and other musculoskeletal disorders. Lifestyle and diet changes required in some modalities like naturopathy and nutrition-based therapies undoubtedly enhance conventional interventions and medications in combating lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and asthma. Aromatherapy that involves inhalation of essential oils from trees, herbs and flowers relaxes mind and body of patients and helps reduce discomfort after surgery. In all these cited instances, alternative medicine may seem optional and unimportant, but on closer scrutiny, the unorthodox practices integrated into the mainstream medical methods help in no small measure in facilitating the healing process and promoting well-being, making these necessary in the final analysis.

For people in areas where modern healthcare is scarce or totally unavailable, traditional treatment like herbal medicine, meditation, pressure massage and dietary changes lessen symptoms and suffering. Often, common illnesses such as cold, fever, upset stomach, diarrhea, and muscle pains are treated using one or a combination of these all-natural healing methods without complications. For people with no access to healthcare, alternative medicine is definitely the only option they have and is therefore a necessity.

Another group that use alternative medicine are people that individually choose natural interventions only, and those who are part of organizations or religious sects that allow natural interventions only. A homeopathy or naturopathy believer would surely avoid surgical procedures whenever possible, in much the same way sect followers would shun blood transfusions that one’s religion forbids. In these cases, alternative healing methods are favored more than others and are therefore necessary.

So, do we need alternative healing methods? The answer is definitely yes, as there are certainly many who use these non-mainstream techniques in treating diseases, for one reason or another. Complementary and alternative medicine systems give patients the options to choose not only their healthcare provider but the methods in which they will be treated and restored to full health.

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