Alternative medicine has been described as “any of various systems of healing or treating disease (as chiropractic, homeopathy, or faith healing) not included in the traditional medical curricula taught in the United States and Britain”.
Alternative medicine practices are often based in belief systems not derived from modern science. Alternative medicines may therefore incorporate spiritual, metaphysical, or religious underpinnings, untested practices, non-Western medical traditions, or newly developed approaches to healing.
Alternative medicine is a type of therapeutic practice that is not considered to be a part of traditional or conventional medical treatment. People use alternative medicine instead of using traditional medical treatment. This is often because they feel it is a natural way to get better.
There are many types of alternative medicine. Some are covered by medical insurance, but most are not. Some forms of alternative medicine that may be covered are chiropractic and osteopathic therapy. These forms of alternative medicine are widely used.
There are other forms of alternative medicine that are not as widely used, but are becoming more popular by the minute. These are: massage therapy, therapeutic touch, folk medicine, herbal medicine, special diets, homeopathy, music therapy, aromatherapy, naturopathy, faith healing, and new age healing. There are also some non-western forms of alternative medicine such as: Chinese medicine, gi gong, reiki, and ayarveda.
There are some less commonly practiced forms of alternative medicine as well. One is called biofield therapy. This is a form of alternative medicine that works with your so called “energy fields” to heal you. Another is bioelectrical magnetic therapy. This alternative medicine uses pulse and magnetic fields to heal you.
Eastern countries have a longstanding tradition of teaching alternative medicine. But until recently, most Western hospitals didn’t provide any alternative treatments and Western medical schools didn’t teach them.
Patients in Western countries are becoming more receptive to trying alternative techniques, and have been asking for them. As a result, many Western medical schools are starting to teach these medicine techniques and theories. Some hospitals and doctors are supplementing their regular medical care with alternative techniques.
Finding a good CAM practitioner is still not as easy as looking someone up in a phone book. NCCAM recommends asking another health care provider for a referral, talking to people who have been treated by the expert you are considering, and meeting with the practitioner to ask about his or her experience and training the same kinds of things you’d do if you were interviewing a new doctor.
You may have already used a complementary or alternative practice, like yoga or massage, and not even thought about it! Trying practices like meditation and breathing can’t do any harm, but other CAM techniques may have consequences for people with certain health conditions.