Why do people turn to alternative medicine?

Chris Kilham
Alternative & Complementary Medicine

What is called "alternative medicine," like the use of herbs, for example, vastly pre-dates modern pharma therapy. The use of body therapies like massage and acupuncture goes back for thousands of years. When people get tired of the failure of "modern" therapies, they often resort to these time-honored, very well proven, largely safe therapies for help. So-called alternative therapies succeed very well in cases of chronic disorders, where so-called "conventional" medicine is excellent in a crisis, as in emergency care. Combining both approaches is true complementary medicine.

Alan Gaby
Nutrition & Dietetics
Many treatments that are labeled "alternative" by the conventional medical community are safer and less expensive than conventional therapies.
Joane Goodroe

There are many definitions to alternative medicine. Many consider alternative medicines driven from Eastern cultures. For example, the art of acupuncture is an Eastern medicine that has origins thousands of years in the past. Over the past 60 years, acupuncture has been well-studied. For many patients, acupuncture represents a treatment option that is holistic and non-invasive compared to other alternatives. Like all types of medicine, research the credentials, training and outcomes of the clinician before seeking any type of treatments.


Juliet Wilkinson
Oncology Nursing
There seems to be a culture shift in America. At the start of my nursing career I saw patients and families seeking alternative treatments as a last-ditch effort towards a cure. Today I see patients and their families choosing alternative medicine as a complimentary adjunct to their medical regimes and as a way to prevent disease rather than treat it. Regardless of the 'why' people choose alternative medicine, the most important factor is probably the realization that it is still medicine and should not be taken lightly or without knowledge. Just because you can buy herbs off the shelf does not always mean you should use them. Start with a practitioner, such as a homeopathic doctor, before embarking on an alternative journey.
Lawrence T. Chiaramonte, MD
Allergy & Immunology
Why people seek alternatives to the kind of medicine medical doctors practice depends in part on the patient's "belief system," which underpins the practice of medicine in every culture. After all, a tribal shaman or witchdoctor can be an effective healer, at least temporarily. Why? One part is because herbs and barks can contain real medicinal chemicals that are used in modern medicines. The other part is that they and their patients trust the treatment.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.