Complementary vs. Alternative Medicine: What’s Best for You?

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Indeed, science has not fully understood the deepest secrets of man’s ability to heal. Some methods have long been under the microscope but are still unable to gain wider acceptance. Take, for instance, healing thoughts. You may not believe it, but studies show that our thoughts can indeed help us heal — or to a large degree, keep us healthier than ever. Indeed, it’s strange, but there is growing evidence healing thoughts are effective.

The same holds true for alternative medicine. Starting as mainly anecdotal, a lot of cases have shown how effective alternative medicine is. Cancer patients who have tried every traditional therapy available in the book are giving it a try. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s complementary medicine. And it’s very much like alternative medicine. Only this time, you don’t abandon traditional healing practices; you run it along.

However, there are risks involved in both alternative and complementary medicine. For one, putting your faith in alternative medicine in cancer treatment could mean you’re allowing cancer to do as it pleases: spread to other parts of your body. Here’s the lowdown on the matter.

The Wonderful World of CAM

Of course, anyone who’s drowning would take anything you throw at them, even when it’s a knife. That’s true. People who have been struggling with any life-threatening disease are bound to feel hopeless after some time. We’re talking about heart disease to cancer.

To boot, heart disease takes over 600,000 American lives every year. That makes it the #1 killer disease in the Land of the Brave.

More often than not, people seek complementary and alternative medicine to find a solution to their sickness. Take note that though these two healing methodologies are grouped under the same umbrella called CAM, short for complementary and alternative medicine, they’re, in reality, distinct.

Both refer to treatments outside the realm of the medical mainstream. A glorious example is using herbs. But there’s a chasm of difference. Complementary treatment is when you use these unconventional therapies together with traditional Western healing techniques. Alternative treatment is when these approaches are utilized instead of these traditional techniques.

Meaning: alternative medicine is a lone ranger, riding on its own, while complementary medicine is riding together with traditional medicine.

Healing for Everyone

The good news is sick people can make the most of CAM. Though each may respond differently, many patients have responded well to complementary medicine. Take note that a lot more studies have been done on complementary than on alternative.

For instance, studies point out that acupuncture can help a lot in managing chronic pain. In this regard, getting the best acupuncture should be a wise decision if you’re dealing with recurring pain in your body (e.g., in the neck and lower back). Moreover, the Oriental healing method has been proven effective in the fight to contain arthritis and major headaches.

Another method that is gaining a lot of traction is yoga. It can be an effective method in reducing anxiety and depression. Moreover, the Indian healing routine has done well to put heart rate and blood pressure under control.

Hold Your Horses 

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Then again, there are risks involved with CAM. Like any other method, traditional ones, including getting into complementary and alternative techniques, should be done with care. As aforementioned, this is especially true for alternative medicine. If you’re getting into an alternative treatment,  you could be putting yourself in a very precarious situation. And in part, you’re dealing with a treatment that may not have been proven in any way.

Complementary medication, however, has far lesser risks than the alternative method as it’s used along with traditional ways of healing. For one, yoga does not have any known adverse side effects.

Putting your faith in herbs and supplements can also be tricky. For starters, these substances have not been regulated as much as traditional drugs have. Drinking something natural doesn’t actually mean you’re taking something safe. Many of the doses and ingredients in these supplements could vary from one manufacturing company to another.

A few adverse effects worth mentioning includes:

  • Vitamin C. High doses of the vitamin could adversely affect traditional methods in treating cancer (e.g., chemotherapy, radiation).
  • Kava Kava. Many people use this to treat anxiety, but too much of the extract can damage the liver.
  • Dietary Supplements. These can interfere with cancer treatments—reason enough why oncologists prescribe to avoid them when undergoing treatment.

The word of the day is to be vigilant when dealing with CAM. And yet, it doesn’t mean you should avoid them. Talk to your doctor.  Consult experts. Certainly, using them can put you in an advantageous position. You have to learn to use them with care. And reap the benefits eventually.

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