Home 9 Blog 9 How Does Alternative Medicine Work? Learn with Examples

How Does Alternative Medicine Work? Learn with Examples

Nov 10, 2023 | Blog

Post by:

how does alternative medicine work

In the ever-evolving world of healthcare, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has emerged as a beacon of hope for those wanting a more natural, less invasive solution to their symptoms, sickness, and diseases.

Unlike conventional medicine, which tends to focus on symptomatic relief, alternative medicine embraces the entire spectrum of a patient’s health — physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual.

This integrative medicine approach provides comprehensive solutions that not only mitigate the symptoms but also strike at the root cause of chronic ailments like cancer. But what exactly is it and how can it help? In this article, we dive more deeply into addressing chronic conditions with alternative treatment methods such as acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.

Does Complementary and Alternative Medicine Address the Root Causes?

Alternative medicine, which includes several different specialties such as Holistic, Naturopathic, and Functional Medicine are all science-based approaches that focus on identifying and addressing the root cause of diseases rather than merely treating symptoms with pharmaceuticals.

These unconventional approaches underscore the complex interplay of environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors that influence long-term health and chronic diseases, fitting under the umbrella of types of alternative medicine.

A simple, but accurate illustrative comparison is that while conventional medicine would treat an unhealthy plant by spraying the plant with pesticides (pharmaceutical approach) or cutting the wilting leaves (surgical approach), alternative medicine aims to nurture the soil as well as provide plentiful water and sunlight to ensure that the entire garden can thrive (nutritional approach).

This approach doesn’t deny the need for immediate relief in acute situations, but it prioritizes the understanding of underlying imbalances to promote long-term wellness.

How Does Alternative Medicine Address the Root Causes?

In humans, as in plants, the main difference is that while conventional medicine may occasionally identify things that contribute to poor health, there isn’t any whole-body (holistic) thinking about the fundamental laws of biology and how to use these principles to address the foundational causes chronic illness and chronic degenerative disease.

For example, homeopathy and chiropractic care, both considered types of CAM, approach health by considering the mind and body as interconnected parts of the whole system.

Continuing with the example of severe headaches, alternative medicine seeks to understand the balance of energy within the body and mind, rather than just prescribing standard treatments like aspirin.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health studies how CAM treatments can be used instead of or along with standard medical care to improve patient outcomes.

Reiki and hypnosis, for instance, are therapies included in the types of CAM that explore the energy fields, promoting healing by focusing on the parts of the body.

These approaches, while not necessarily clinical trials certified, are still explored for their potential to be safe and effective alternatives or complements to standard medical care.

In the examples above, whether it’s a simple headache or a debilitating autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis, doctors versed in alternative medicine and medical systems like Ayurvedic medicine, tai chi, and aromatherapy, may identify what is happening, but they also strive to uncover why it is happening on a foundational, root cause level.

While alternative medicine may not be the sole answer to all health concerns, it undoubtedly forms a significant part of the solution. Its holistic, preventive, and individualized approach aligns perfectly with the pursuit of long-term wellness.

Why Understanding Chronic Conditions Is Important?

Chronic conditions include a range of long-lasting diseases that require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living. They include conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis among others. These often complex and intertwined conditions demand an approach beyond the usual suppression of symptoms. Integrative medicine plays a pivotal role here, combining both conventional medicine and complementary and alternative therapies to provide a more rounded approach to managing these conditions.

Introduction to Holistic Care in Alternative Treatment

Most alternative medicine can be accurately defined as ‘holistic’. Holistic care is an approach to healthcare that addresses the person as a whole, not just as a single diagnosis of a particular disease or a collection of symptoms. This encompasses types of alternative medicine like homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine.

1. Benefits of Holistic Care

Holistic care promotes overall health, prevents illness, and treats disease by considering all aspects of a person’s life. By empowering individuals to actively participate in their care, holistic care fosters a sense of responsibility for one’s health.

2. Physical Dimension of Holistic Care

The physical dimension of holistic care emphasizes proper nutrition, exercise, and adequate rest to maintain and improve physical health. It aligns with therapies that include practices like acupuncture, chiropractic, and tai chi—each playing a role in maintaining the harmony of the body and mind.

3. Emotional and Mental Aspects of Holistic Care

Holistic care also dives deep into emotional and mental health. Stress, anxiety, depression – these emotional states can exacerbate chronic conditions and even stand as barriers to recovery. Holistic care incorporates therapies that focus on emotional balance and mental clarity, such as counseling, mindfulness exercises, meditation, and yoga—reflecting a true complementary and integrative health approach.

4. Spiritual Aspect of Holistic Care

Though often overlooked, spiritual health plays a significant role in managing chronic conditions. Through practices like meditation, prayer, or connection with nature, patients are encouraged to foster a sense of purpose, peace, and interconnectedness, facilitating deeper healing. This is often seen in Ayurvedic practices, which consider the energy fields of the body.

5. The Role of the Patient in Holistic Care

A key principle of holistic care, and for that matter, all alternative approaches, is empowering patients to take an active role in their health. Patients are educated about their conditions, encouraged to set personal health goals, and guided in making lifestyle changes to support their healing process. This engagement not only fosters a sense of control over their health but also boosts treatment adherence and outcomes.

6. The Role of Alternative Medicine in Managing Chronic Conditions

Implementing holistic care or alternative treatment often involves a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals, including medical doctors, nutritionists, physiotherapists, mental health professionals, and spiritual counselors. This team works in concert to create a tailored care plan that addresses each aspect of the patient’s health.

Top 3 Practical Steps to Implement Holistic Care

Here are some practical steps to implement holistic care:

a. Lifestyle Changes

Incorporating regular exercise, ensuring adequate sleep, and managing stress are all key components of holistic care. Don’t underestimate the power of these changes, as they can have a profound impact on health.

b. Mind-Body Techniques

Techniques such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can help manage the emotional and psychological aspects of chronic conditions. They can reduce stress, improve mental health, and enhance overall well-being.

c. Nutrition and Supplements

Proper nutrition and the use of supplements can be a powerful weapon in the fight against chronic conditions. Consuming a balanced diet rich in whole foods and possibly supplementing with specific nutrients can help support your body’s healing processes.

The Future of Holistic Care in Chronic Condition Management

With advancements in research and technology, holistic care continues to evolve, offering promising solutions for chronic condition management. These include innovative mind-body techniques, digital health platforms, and personalized nutrition plans, among others.

The holistic care approach holds immense potential in transforming the way we manage chronic conditions. Its comprehensive, patient-centered, and empowering approach can enhance not just the health outcomes but also the quality of life for millions grappling with chronic conditions.

By embracing holistic care, we can hope to navigate the challenging landscape of chronic conditions with greater success and create a future where health is more than just the absence of disease, but a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.

Challenges and Solutions in Holistic Care

While the holistic approach offers numerous benefits, it also comes with its own set of challenges, such as the lack of standardized practices or skepticism from traditional medical practitioners. However, with continued research and increased awareness, these obstacles can be overcome. A greater understanding and acceptance of complementary and alternative medicine as safe and effective are key to this transition.

Final Words

Addressing chronic conditions requires more than just managing symptoms; it requires a holistic approach that addresses the whole person. As we continue to understand the complexities of chronic conditions, it’s clear that holistic care, one of many revolutionary kinds of alternative medicine, is not just a passing trend, but a necessary shift in how we view and manage health.