The Benefits of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

June 19, 2008 · Print This Article

By now, you have probably heard of complementary and alternative medicine, as it is one of the fastest growing segments of the medical profession. Why is it so popular? A good guess would be that people are growing disenchanted with allopathic doctors and their prescription pads. Side effects of prescription medications have grown to massive proportions, and it is said that the cure is sometimes worse than the illness as far as side effects are concerned. People are ready for a natural, whole-body method of treatment, one that treats them like the human being they are instead of a number or a machine. Complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM for short, is all of this and more.

Basically, complimentary and alternative medicine is any type of medical treatment, practice, or goods that are in no way related to conventional medicine, although some conventional doctors who went to college and medical school for MD degrees also practice complimentary and alternative medicine. Confused yet? The explanation is simple –

• Complementary medicine is used along with conventional medicine – i.e., it compliments conventional medicine. An example of this could be a patient receiving massage therapy (complementary) after treatment for a sprained shoulder. (conventional).

• Alternative medicine is used instead of conventional medicine. An example of this is a patient with Stage 2 lung cancer who stops all chemotherapy overseen by an oncologist (conventional) and instead begins a treatment regimen with herbs and plant matter. (alternative)

You may decide that you are interested in using complementary and alternative medicine. First of all, you should do some research for the type of medical problem you will be visiting the doctor for. Find out if there have been any studies or research done on your illness where complementary and alternative medicine played a role in the diagnoses and treatment. This will give you some advice and some ammunition with which to proceed. Then, have a talk with your current doctor. Tell him what you are thinking of doing, and find out what he thinks. He may surprise you and be all for you making the change, or he may be totally against it and advise you grimly that you will be taking your health into your own hands.

That’s exactly what you want to do! When you choose complementary and alternative medicine, you are making your own heath care decisions, possibly for the first time. That’s quite a heady feeling, but it can be a scary one, too. That is why you must be sure to carefully consider your options. Find a complementary and alternative medicine doctor you feel you can trust, and interview him. Ask questions, and offer information about your health history and any prescription drugs you may be taking. Listen to what the CAM doctor has to say, and then go home and sleep on your decision. You may want to repeat the above with more than one CAM doctor.

Whatever your decision, here’s to your health!

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