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MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information
THE RISE IN COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE POPULARITY


"For Informational Use Only"
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POPULARITY TOPICS

  • Introduction
  • Disenchantment With Medical Science
  • What Complementary Medicine Can Offer
  • Who Uses Complementary Medicine
  • Related Holistic Links




  • INTRODUCTION


    Today's interest in complementary medicine appears to be worldwide. Popularity in the West has grown steadily since the 1970s, accelerating in the 1980s and 1990s. A survey in 1993 showed that one in three American adults used some form of non-conventional therapy, and it has been predicted that the number will rise to one in two by the year 2000. The survey also revealed that more visits were made to complementary practitioners than to conventional health care providers.

    Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and chiropractic attract an enthusiastic following in the US, but therapies widely used in Europe, such as homeopathy and aromatherapy, have been slower to gain ground. Following public demand and suspecting cost benefits, several American health insurers now cover some complementary treatments.

    In Australia complementary medicine is even more popular than it is in the US. Nearly half the population is said to use at least one remedy not prescribed by a conventional health care provider; over one-fifth have visited a complimentary practitioner.

    In Europe, studies suggest that between one-third and one-half of the adult population has used some form of complementary medicine at some time, although the popularity of different therapies and regulations concerning their practice vary from one country to another.

    In 1995, a Consumers' Association survey in the UK revealed that osteopathy, chiropractic, homeopathy, aromatherapy, and acupuncture were the most popular therapies. In the UK, a nationwide survey in 1991 suggested that 20 to 30 percent of the 30,000 general practitioners in the National Health Service would like complementary therapies to be more accessible within the state system. As yet most are privately funded.

    In India, China, and Africa, traditional healing systems are in common use and may receive government backing. Cynics point out that "folk" medicine is cheaper to provide, but others detect strengths that complement "high-tech" conventional medical science. Universities in India, for example, offer degrees in Ayurveda that incorporate Western pathology, proving that the two systems can work well side by side.


    close partnership

    Close partnership between the patient and the practitioner in many complementary therapies encourages the active participation of the patient in the healing process and is one of the main reasons for the growing popularity of complementary therapies.





    DISENCHANTMENT WITH CONVENTIONAL MEDICAL SCIENCE


    In some ways, the very success of conventional medicine is partly responsible for the rising popularity of complementary therapies. Improvements in living standards, and medical and scientific progress, have raised people's expectations of health and health care. The improvement of community and personal sanitary conditions, waste control, nutrition, public access to a variety of foods and supplements along with the discovery of certain drugs such as penicillin and possibly the mass inoculation (debatable subject) have diminished terror of once-fatal infectious diseases and have improved over-all health for people in general.

    Medical technology in the form of x-rays, brain scans, and keyhole surgery, and scientific miracles such as heart transplants and the saving of premature babies, seemed to give doctors godlike power over life and death. But the blind faith many people placed in medicine was shaken when so-called wonder drugs revealed unpleasant or dangerous side effects, bacteria and viruses developed resistance to many of the drugs that once annihilated them, and pharmaceutical drugs and invasive surgical procedures failed to deliver the complete cures that were, perhaps unrealistically, expected of them. Despite some progress, cures for cancer and AIDS remain elusive, and long-term diseases such as asthma and arthritis are still difficult to treat and can be just as painful.

    Disenchantment with medical science has certainly prompted a number of people to use complementary therapies, but not everyone is motivated by a flight from technology. Studies show that it is relatively rare for people to abandon conventional medicine completely, and many continue to hold it in high regard. Complementary medicine can sometimes simply seem more appealing.


    people from all cultures

    Many complementary therapies, which have been an integral part of health care in other societies for centuries, are relatively new to the developed world. Modern medicine in the West has been dominated by pharmaceutical drugs and medical technology, but there is now growing interest in therapies that treat the patient as a whole.





    WHAT COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE CAN OFFER


    A 1995 survey in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology revealed that many people turn to complementary therapies because they believe them to be more effective for their condition than conventional medicine. The emphasis on treating the whole person and allowing patients to play an active part in maintaining health is also attractive. The attention paid by health care professionals and the media to health promotion and preventive medicine - a healthy diet, regular exercise, stress management techniques, and self-monitoring for symptoms of illness - encourages us to take responsibility for our well-being and to be involved in discussions about treatment. The length of time and amount of consultation that this requires may not be within the scope of the average hard-pressed conventional medical practitioner. Complementary medicine, with its focus on partnership, holism, and self-healing, can therefore seem like the more natural approach, in every sense. Even the fact of paying for treatment, in commitment as well as money, can add to its value.

    Many patients do not need to choose between approaches to treatment, since complementary therapies can often be followed alongside conventional procedures and medication. So far, people using complementary medicine have asked remarkably few questions about efficacy or safety - presumably grateful to have escaped what they see as the drawbacks of conventional medicine, or pleased to have found a treatment that relieves symptoms. In 1993, the British Medical Association urged its members to find out more about complementary therapies in order to advise their patients. As complementary medicine moves toward the mainstream and growing numbers of conventional medical practitioners become more interested and informed, therapists must be prepared for more critical and discriminating questions, such as "Does this treatment work?" and "What is the evidence?"

    medical greed


    Note: Many of the procedures, interventions, practices, drugs and therapies found in conventional medicine are used without evidence to support their use. They are often instituted without proper studies to show they have effectiveness and safety in the long term. They are often continued after evidence has been found that they are not needed, or successful, or may actually be more dangerous to the patient than the problem they are supposed to resolve. Conventional medical practice seems largely money (greed) driven, beginning with drug companies distributing questionable and often dangerous drugs for huge profits - to mega-medical centers charging huge fees for routine services rendered and for unnecessary patient procedures often instituted to prevent malpractice lawsuits - to medical practioners running a fast-paced, overbooked, assembly-line patient care without individual personal patient care while treating symptoms and not necessarily the root health problem - to lawyers hired to keep malpractice and dangerous drug lawsuits to a minmum. Meanwhile, health insurance companies are charging increasing premiums for minimal patient care (costing more for less coverage), often not covering needed medical care procedures and medications while making cuts in benefits to the patient. Insurance fraud is common place and often goes unnoticed for many years before the practitioner or institution is caught, while driving up the costs of medical care.

    medical greed


    Conventional medical practice does not like change and are extremely slow in changing their ways. Medical schools teach new practitioners about established customs and practice protocol and expect conformity and remaining "in the box" from their new practitioners. This seems to largely come about because it is simply "traditional" to do something in a certain manner, regardless of its effectiveness or safety, and this was the way conventional practitioners were taught in medical school in years past and they were also taught "not to question established authority or theory". Thinking "out of the box" is highly discouraged and is often met with hostility and ridicule by other members of the medical community. This, I believe is one of the major reasons conventional medical practice has been so slow in opening up to non-conventional, complimentary and alternative medical practices. Another reason is there is little money to be made by keeping your patient healthy and drug-free and using methods that do not require expensive high-tech diagnostics and treatment.


    People are hungry for a new kind of medicine and health care, but not at any price. Lets face it, the current conventional medical system is broken and dysfunctional on many levels. Just as the popularity of non-conventional therapies is making the medical profession examine its own practices, so complementary practitioners must account for their own claims and competence.






    Who Uses Complementary Medicine?


    International surveys have shown that people in developed countries using complementary therapies tend to be better educated and enjoy higher incomes than average.

    UK research has shown that users fall into two categories: Those with a specific problem, and those who sympathize with complementary medicine's "approach to life". On the whole, men are more likely to consult practitioners of therapies such as osteopathy or chiropractic, not because they are concerned about any toxic side effects but, more pragmatically, because conventional medicine did not help their specific problem. Women, however, tend to be more interested in easing stress and maintaining well-being, and are drawn to gentler therapies, such as reflexology and aromatherapy. Often those who turn to therapies for a specific problem experience other positive benefits, thus encouraging an interest in the approach to life offered by complementary medicine.





    RELATED LINKS

    MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information: An Explanation of Holistic Medicine
    MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information: The State of Research
    MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information: Mind / Body Medicine
    MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information: The Future of Medicine






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    AROMATHERAPY: ESSENTIAL OILS DESCRIPTIONS & USES


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    Almond, Sweet Oil
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