Alternative Medicine Gaining Acceptance
More and more people are turning to complementary and alternative medicine. Alternative therapies are now being used by patients with many kinds of health problems. Alternative therapies is attracting people with cancer, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis, for example, turn to alternative medicine to help their ailments. This involves taking supplements, using massage therapy, and other forms of alternative medicine.
In Denmark, for example, one in four people use Alternative therapies to manage their health. One recent study found that many people with multiple sclerosis use a large range of alternative medicine to heal their ailments, although these patients didn’t share much of the details of their therapy use with their doctors. They did, however, report that they experienced fewer side effects compared to those triggered by conventional drugs. On the other hand, they also reported less positive effects from the alternative therapies compared to conventional medicines.
In Sweden, a team of researchers recently studied how the patients of registered healthcare professionals in surgical departments at Swedish university hospitals use alternative therapies. A questionnaire was distributed to 1,757 registered physicians, nurses, and physiotherapists. About 700 health professionals reported that their patients were using some kind of alternative medicine, including massage, manual therapies, yoga, acupuncture, herbal medicine, dietary supplements, homeopathy, and healing.
Which therapies were most utilized to improve health? Over 40% of patients gave massage therapy and/or acupuncture a try to manage their symptoms. Once again, though, not much communication was happening between patients and health care professionals about their use of alternative therapies.
This is due to a general lack of knowledge among health care professionals about these therapies and their possible mechanisms of action.
It seems there is a disconnect between health care professionals who are reluctant to prescribe alternative therapies and patients who frequently turn to alternative medicine when traditional drugs aren’t giving them the results they want. But the problem is patients often won’t tell their doctor that they’re combining conventional medicine with alternative medicine.
Let’s turn once again to our specific example of multiple sclerosis and the results from one more trial. 111 patients from Philadelphia with multiple sclerosis were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their alternative therapy use. All the participants used alternative therapies. About 20 of the 111 patients used nothing but alternative therapy to treat and manage their condition. And 70% of the patients using alternative therapies had a disability score under five (with 10 representing the most severe disability symptoms).
Is your doctor likely to prescribe alternative therapies for the treatment of your health issues? Probably not. Does that mean you shouldn’t use alternative therapies? The answer to that is also “no.” Clearly, patients find that alternative therapies are beneficial for their health. The best approach to alternative therapies is to utilize them for their healing benefits but to discuss this use with your doctor. This way, both conventional and alternative medicines can complement one another.