Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Alternative Medicine- A 5000 Year Old Trend

by: Glenn Taylor

Alternative medicine is the term given to the kind of medicine which lies beyond the study of conventional medicine or  Western medicine. This term  is very broad and it covers all kinds of  medicinal treatment excluding allopathic treatment. 

The first world congress for alternative medicine was convened back in 1973, in Rome.  This provisional program, at that time, consisted of as many as 135 types of therapies. Other terms which might be used to refer to alternative medicine in different cultures include indigenous medicine or folk medicine. The origin of such practices dates back to as far as 5000 years and these treatments differ according to the countries and different cultures.

Due to the growing popularity of alternative medicine, a study was conducted which was labeled as ‘Types of alternative medicine used by patients with breast, colon, or prostate cancer: predictors, motives, and costs.’ The objective of this study was to assess various predictors and the different costs associated with the different forms of alternative medicine that patients use   to combat cancer. This involved a survey of around 356 patients who were suffering  from various kinds of cancers ranging from breast cancer, prostate cancer, to colon cancer. (Patterson, et al., 2002)The results from this study pointed out that as many as 70.2% of the patients made use of some form  of alternative medicine , while 16.6% of the patients were visiting providers of alternate medicine.  Another 19.1% used mental or other therapy of some kind and 64.6% used dietary supplements.  

Apart from this, other findings suggested that 83% to 97% of the patients made  use of alternate therapy  for general well being and this varied based on the type of therapy used. Also, it was discovered that around 8% to 56% used it as a treatment for cancer. The average annual expenditure by a user on alternative medicine amounted to $68, while the expenditure ranged from $4 to the $14,659.

This studied clearly concluded that alternative medicine served to improve their well being which made it essential that clinicians should maintain an open mind about these treatments while encouraging open discussion in this regard. (Patterson, et al., 2002) 

Different types of Alternative treatment

Listed below are some of the types of alternative treatments which are being practiced currently:


This kind of treatment makes use of needles. These are fine needles which are specifically prepared for this purpose. These needles are inserted at specific points in the body in order to disperse, simulate, and regulate the flow of the vital body energy so that a healthy balance of energy can be restored.  Acupuncture is used to provide relief from pain, and is also used to treat acute, degenerative, and chronic conditions in adults and in children.


This treatment is similar to that of acupuncture; however, it uses fingers to apply pressure at specific points on the body, instead of needles. This treatment is used to address ailments like stress, tension, menstrual cramps, arthritis, pains, and aches.
Other similar alternative treatments include:
            • Astrology
            • Atlas orthogonal
            • Aroma therapy
There are numerous other treatments available apart from the ones mentioned, each offering a bundle of healing benefits for man.


Patterson, R., Neuhouser, M. L., Hedderson, M. M., Schwartz, S. M., Standish, L. J., Bowen, D. J., et al. (2002). Types of alternative medicine used by patients with breast, colon, or prostate cancer: predictors, motives, and costs. U.S. National Library of Medicine . http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12230908