In a world where the use of many prescription drugs and medical procedures are at an all-time high, people are seeking alternatives to conventional medicine. Alternative therapies refer to treatments that have not been scientifically tested for effectiveness, or whose effectiveness has not been shown despite scientific testing.
Whether it’s chronic back pain, insomnia, difficulty losing weight, or a host of other complaints, proponents of alternative therapies suggest conventional medicine may not always be necessary or enough, and in some cases may not even be as beneficial as alternative therapies.
When it comes to alternative therapies, there are no guiding ethical boards. It is up to each individual to make a choice about his or her own health and use of alternative therapies. The official stance of many organizations and doctors, is that using these therapies as an alternative to scientifically proven treatments is not advisable, particularly in cases of potentially fatal diseases and conditions. Use of these therapies as a complement to traditional therapies and medication is something that should be discussed between patients and their doctors or nurses.
Many alternative therapies have their origin in Eastern tradition, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM practitioners use a combination of herbal remedies and mind-body practices, such as acupuncture, to treat and prevent health issues. TCM is not the only source of alternative therapies. Chiropractic medicine, aromatherapy, biofeedback, homeopathy, meditation, Reiki, and yoga are all considered complementary or alternative therapies.
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While chiropractic medicine, acupuncture, and cupping all require physical manipulation or stimulation, there are several minimal-touch and no-touch alternative therapies, including yoga, Reiki, and herbal medicine.
By definition, alternative therapies have not been proven to work by the scientific method. The studies that do exist have been criticized for researcher bias and for issues in research design. Take, for example, chiropractic medicine in which a double-blind study (in which neither the participants nor the researchers know who is receiving treatment and who isn’t) would not be possible.
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