Alternative Medicine – Is It Right For You?

By Gwyneth Short, ATC ~

As complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) becomes more popular in the US, more seniors and older adults are using this avenue to alleviate pain and treat a variety of conditions. There are many different sources that will categorize CAM. For example, some will include things like physical therapy and massage as alternative medicine. Since these have become so popular in the US, it is hard to view them as alternative. Things like acupuncture, reiki, and reflexology are more commonly associated with alternative therapies.

Complementary and alternative medicine covers a wide range of practices that are meant to enhance or replace Western medicine. Traditional western medicine tends to be allopathic — emphasizing diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Alternative medicine is more holistic, looking at the whole person — physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, etc. Different models of alternative medicine have different focuses/approaches, often rooted in the culture and belief system of the country or region where they originated. When choosing the right therapy for you, it is important to educate yourself on the model, philosophy, and application of these modalities.

Natural does not mean risk free
In addition to bodywork, alternative therapies may include over-the-counter supplements, such as herbs, to improve health. While there are plenty of options out there, be careful. The herbs may interfere with other medications or supplements you may be taking. Each of these has an active ingredient. In natural supplements, the amount and source of active herb contained in each pill or capsule is loosely regulated — as food, not as drugs. They still may have a chemical effect on the body and can interact with medications you might be taking. Always check with your medical provider when looking at herbal supplements or OTC treatments.

Where do you start?
People often ask the question: Which therapy should I choose? If you have back pain, should you get a massage, see a chiropractor, or try acupuncture? It is just as important to find a practitioner that fits you as the therapy itself. When considering alternative medicine in a physical, mental, and/or spiritual context, you may want to consider how you interact with the practitioner, not just which therapy is right.
The western medical community is increasingly embracing alternative medicine. Some insurance carriers are beginning to provide limited coverage. When deciding which is right for you, it is important to communicate with your primary health care provider as well as any specialists you are seeing. They really need a full picture of all of the care you are receiving. Also, since not all therapies are covered by insurance, there is a financial reality. You may need to balance some
traditional therapies that are paid by your insurance with the alternative treatments that you can afford.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12765008/
https://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/septoct2007p38.shtml
https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/herb-drug-interactions
https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam
https://www.stlukes-stl.com/health-content/medicine/33/000346.htm

When did alternative medicine begin?
History of alternative medicine – Wikipedia
From the late eighteenth century and more robustly from the mid-nineteenth century a number of non-conventional medical systems developed in the West which proposed oppositional medical systems, criticised orthodox medical practitioners, emphasised patient-centredness, and offered substitutes for the treatments offered …

Just For Pun
What did the herb garden say after a long day of planting?
“It’s time to chive into relaxation.”

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