Science and Profession (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Alternative medicine—known also as natural healing, complementary medicine, integrative medicine, or holistic medicine—focuses on the relationship among the mind, body, and spirit. The underlying philosophy is that people can maintain health by preventing disease in the first place by keeping the body in “balance” and by utilizing the body’s “natural” healing processes when people succumb to disease. Alternative medicine approaches contrast with Western medicine’s traditional focus on treating symptoms and curing disease and its underemphasis of preventive medicine. Thought radical at one time, complementary medicines and therapies are gaining wide appeal as their anecdotal efficacy and reputation grow.
Alternative medicine practitioners treat everything from diseases such as cancer and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) to chronic pain and fatigue, stress, insomnia, depression, high blood pressure, circulatory and digestive disorders, allergies, arthritis, diabetes mellitus, and drug and alcohol addictions.
The major risks associated with alternative medicine include costly delays in seeking appropriate treatment, misinformation, side effects from self-administered remedies, and psychological distress if patients believe that they are responsible for their own illness or lack of recovery. In addition, many alternative medicine practitioners have little or no formal health training and...
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Diagnostic and Treatment Techniques (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Numerous alternative medicine treatments exist, and they vary widely in the nature of their claims, their acceptability to conventional doctors, and the manner in which they can and cannot be tested. The treatments can be divided into three main types.
The first type consists of those treatments that deal with the mind/body connection or that have recognized benefits and accepted applications and so are often used together with conventional medicine. These approaches include acupuncture and acupressure, biofeedback, chiropractic, hydrotherapy, light therapy, meditation, oxygen therapy, qi gong, sound therapy, Tai Chi Chuan, and yoga. The second type comprises treatments that can be tested by conventional methods and have some accepted applications. These treatments include aromatherapy, cell therapy, colon therapy, detoxification, energy medicine, enzyme therapy, homeopathy, kinesiology, magnetic field therapy, and neural therapy. Treatments of the third type are very difficult to study because they seem to be at odds with Western medicine and cannot readily be tested through standard methods. An example of this type of treatment is herbal medicine.
Acupressure and acupuncture. These treatments are both based on the belief that the body has a vital energy that must be balanced in order to maintain good health. Acupressure uses pressure from the fingertips or knuckles to stimulate specific...
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Perspective and Prospects (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Many alternative or complementary therapies, while new to Western society and medicine, are ancient and derive from nontechnologically based understandings of how the human body and the world work. What specifically works for whom, when, and for what conditions remains a complex problem. Anecdote and hearsay, and the limits and failures of Western medicine, guide and motivate interest in these approaches.
Renewed interest in alternative therapies occurred in the 1970’s and has grown since. By 1998, an estimated one-third of all Americans had used some form of complementary therapy. In 1992, with Americans spending more than fourteen billion dollars annually on alternative medicine, the U.S. government established the Office of Alternative Medicine as a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This office evaluates complementary treatments on a scientific basis and provides public information. Health insurers maintain a key interest in alternative medicine, and an increasing number are paying for it. Many traditionally trained physicians are prescribing or recommending some form of alternative medicine as a complement to their own.
In 2004, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that 36 percent of adults used some form of complementary or alternative medicine. If one included megavitamin therapy and prayer associated with health concerns, the number rose to 62 percent....
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For Further Information: (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Center for Applied Physiology. http://www.menninger .edu. The Menninger Clinic is one of the foremost clinical and research centers in self-regulation and biofeedback.
Ditchek, Stuart, Andrew Weil, and Russell H. Greenfield. Healthy Child, Whole Child: Integrating the Best of Conventional and Alternative Medicine to Keep Your Kids Healthy. New York: HarperCollins, 2002. Provides recommendations for common childhood ailments and focuses on children’s mind-body wellness and their naturally superior healing abilities.
Freeman, Lyn. Mosby’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Research-Based Approach. 2d ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby, 2004. Provides comprehensive coverage in a textbook format. Addresses the history, philosophy, and mechanisms of alternative medicine. Includes a review of clinical trials, indications, and contraindications for each type of therapy.
Jacobs, Jennifer, ed. The Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine: A Complete Family Guide to Complementary Therapies. Rev. ed. Boston: Journey Editions, 1997. Discusses alternative medicine approaches.
Kastner, Mark, and Hugh Burroughs. Alternative Healing: The Complete A-Z Guide to over 160 Different Alternative Therapies. New York: Henry Holt, 1996. The encyclopedic, one-page to four-page entries are brief but include sources of additional information. Also offers a useful resource section and...
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Alternative Medicine (Encyclopedia of Science)
Alternative medicine is the practice of techniques to treat and prevent disease that are not generally accepted by conservative modern Western medicine. These techniques include homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal medicine, yoga, meditation, chiropractic, massage therapy, biofeedback, naturopathy, and many others. Although some of these forms such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture have been practiced for centuries in many cultures, the U.S. medical community has been slow to acknowledge their benefits.
With an increased emphasis on disease prevention in recent years, many people have looked to alternative forms of medicine for drug-free approaches to achieving and maintaining good health. Alternative medicine allows people a measure of participation and control in their own well-being, as many of the practices can be taught and self-administered. Some people have turned to alternative medicine in search of treatment or cures for illnesses such as cancer, AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), arthritis, and heart disease.
Relaxation techniques help promote sleep, reduce stress, and alleviate pain. Controlled breathing is the simplest form of relaxation and consists of sitting or lying in a quiet place and breathing slowly in through the nose and out through the mouth. An advantage of this technique is that, if needed,...
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