The nature of medicine has carried a distinctive regional difference for as long as we can remember. Western medicine has differed greatly from Eastern approaches. Now, however, Eastern approaches are coming forward under the title of alternative medicine.
Western medicine is primarily an anatomical science. If I poke this piece of the body, what happens? Alternative medicine is more geared towards the relationship of health and the mind and energy of a person. Previously scoffed at, the mind-body approach is gaining new acceptance.
When it comes to sweeping terms, alternative medicine is certainly one. It can include everything from massage, herb treatments, meditation and even prayer. This grab bag approach has led to an argument over what exactly alternative medicine means.
On one side of the dispute, you have medical professionals who believe anything that is not from the European medical model and evidence based is alternative medicine. For example, herbalism would fall under alternative medicine in their opinion.
A growing segment of the medical community discounts this approach. Instead, they argue there is no alternative medicine. There is only medicine. If an approach brings health benefits, then it is medicinal in nature. If it does not, it is a scam.
Obviously, these approaches are very distinct and not easily meshed. In fact, there is no plurality regarding which one is right. In truth, it doesnt seem to matter to many patients if you look at the statistics.
In the United States, adults are turning towards alternative medicine. More than 50 percent have used some form of it, a number that makes one wonder if it can be called alternative any longer.
Interestingly, the increased use of alternative approaches does not preclude most western treatment plans. Instead, patients usually supplement such treatment plans with alternative approaches.
While alternative approaches are more accepted, the acceptance is limited to certain areas. The most popular alternative medications and treatments are in areas where re-occurring pain is a problem.
People prefer to self-medicate with alternative medicinal approaches. Less than twenty percent will consult with a licensed practitioner.
When it comes to gender, women are more likely to go alternative than men. There is no clear evidence as why, but there is some suggestion that the mind-body treatment approach common in alternative is more attractive to women.
How we define medicine and where medicinal approaches come from seems to be somewhat irrelevant to most people. The question is whether the gain benefits from it. Given the rise in use, it would seem alternative medicinal approaches are here to stay.