RUNNING HEAD: COMPLEMENTARY, ALTERNATIVE AND INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE PAPERComplementary and Alternative Medicine Many believe that the only way to cure or manage an illness or pain is by conventional medicine. However, on the other hand, there are many who believe that the best way to treat an illness or pain is through the healing powers of complementary and alternative medicine. The following information will give a brief overview of complementary, alternative and integrative medicine. In addition, the following information will include factors that promoted to the popularity and use of complementary, alternative and integrative medicine, factors that are hindering the acceptance of CAM in the United States and the current research knowledge and societal opinion toward complementary, alternative and integrative medicine, The terms alternative, complementary and unconventional are sometimes used interchangeably but there is a distinction between them (Keegan, 2001). One way to think of complementary, alternative and integrative medicine is to remember that individuals control their level of care when it comes to treating their bodies and that there are always alternatives other than conventional treatment and that alternative treatments can complement other treatments.
Technically, according to Keegan (2001) complementary therapy refers to an alternative therapy that is used in conjunction with conventional therapy and alternative therapy, sometimes referred to as an unconventional therapy, pertains to a therapy that is used instead of conventional, orthodox or mainstream therapy. It??™s not difficult to determine that integrative medicine could be considered a combination of both complementary and alternative medicine, as well as conventional medicine. However, it seems that in order for integrative medicine to be successful, all practitioners and or physicians must all agree upon the level of treatment for the individual. Basically, all involved must be on the same page in order for the individual to receive proper care. In order to provide a clearer picture of integrative medicine, it is important to know that integrative medicine is defined as a healing oriented care that draws upon all therapeutic systems to form a comprehensive approach to the art and science of medicine (Keegan, 2001).
Many patients are frustrated that conventional medicine cannot find anything wrong in spite of suffering; however, a desperate collection of symptoms that fits no syndrome known to conventional medicine may be a perfect fit for a traditional chine medicine or homeopathic diagnosis (Ernst, 2002). There are many times when individuals have gone to see a physician and have come out of the physician??™s office with no answers and the same questions that they thought would be answered was never answered. Physicians are the same as any other human being; they do not always know the answer to all questions or symptoms presented.
However, the difference with a physician is that it there responsibility to find the answer and determine what is wrong with an individual or to find out why one is in pain or suffering from an ailment that they have no idea what it is. An individual puts his or her life in a physician??™s hand. More than likely, when a physician is unable to diagnose a sick patient, he or she begins the guessing game, which basically means a physician may say a patient could have this or could have something else.
At this point, the physician may decide to prescribe medication that they believe will help the individual. The prescribed medication can include antibiotics or pain medicine. If an individual informs the physician that he or she is in pain, one of the first options is for the doctor to prescribe pain medication.
There may be nothing more frustrating than not knowing why an individual is suffering from a sickness that cannot be diagnosed or at least diagnosed within a timely manner. Treatments such as traditional Chinese medicine and homeopathic treatment are some of the factors that contribute to the popularity of complementary and alternative medicine. For example, traditional Chinese medicine is based on patient history, observation of the body (especially the tongue), palpitation and pulse diagnosis; treatment usually consists of a combination of therapies: acupuncture, acupressure, herbal remedies, massage, dietary changes and internal energy exercises such as tai chi, breathing and meditation (Keegan, 2001). Obesity is on the rise in the United States and it does need to be controlled somehow someway. Not everyone is acceptable to going under the knife for losing weight.
Going under the knife to lose weight is a quick fix and is definitely not the answer. As it has been expressed that complementary and alternative has not been researched thoroughly, this can be considered the same for the performance of surgeries to control weight loss. One questions to ask is whether or not there are any long term consequences. The difference with treating weight loss with complementary and alternative medicines as opposed to a surgical procedure is the fact that a surgical procedure cannot be undone. For example, if an individual had a gastro bypass, the procedure can not be undone a year later.
If an individual decides to use complementary and alternative medicine, such as herbal remedies, for weight loss and decides for some reason its not working or there is some type of reaction, the individual can undo the use by not taking the herbal remedies any longer and may need to try different combinations. This is another reason why complementary and alternative medicine has become so popular. As there are reasons as to why complementary and alternative medicine has become so popular, there are also reasons to the hindrance of acceptance of complementary and alternative medicine in the United States.
Complementary and alternative medicine lacks both a research tradition and research infrastructure therefore, fails to attract experiences researcher (Ernst, 2000). It seems that another hindrance of acceptance of complementary and alternative medicine would be funding. It seems that there may be a high level of funding for certain research such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and so on. There is a concern that there may not be enough funding for CAM or there may not be experienced researchers to conduct research in this area. This may be growing concern for many Americans.
Another hindrance to the acceptance of CAM would include not enough information being provided to people. If individuals rely on the word(s) of their physician, it is less likely that a doctor would refer his or patient to a certified alternative specialist if he or she does not have adequate knowledge of the therapies. The physicians not be knowledgeable in some way in this area could be a major hindrance to the acceptance of complementary and alternative medicine.
The current knowledge of complementary and alternative medicine is that research is being conducted to keep the public abreast of as many facts as possible. Information is always available at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website. Currently, there is research underway in such areas as the dietary supplement ginkgo biloba, the effects of green tea, major clinical trials and so many more. These are some of the studies, as well as others, that the public would like knowledge of. Society would be much more acceptable to complementary and alternative medicine if they were armed with as much knowledge as possible.
In 2002 62% of adults used some form of complementary and alternative medicine (Barnes, Powell-Griner, McFann and Nahin, 2002); keeping in mind that this percentage does not include pediatrics. Adults are not the only users of complementary and alternative medicine. One is lead to believe that this number more than likely increased as people would try different options that would help them live a better and prosperous life. The combination of complementary and alternative medicine, along with integrative therapies could be considered a win-win not always good to rely on one form of treatment, knowing that there are other options available can only help the situation.
It??™s evident that complementary, alternative and integrative medicine is on the rise. Obtaining information on complementary, alternative and integrative medicine is the same as obtaining a second opinion. However, in order for people to feel comfortable with this type of treatment, it would be important for physicians to do their research as well. If this type of treatment can help a patient, then a physician should have the knowledge and ability to refer a client to a certified alternative therapist.
People want options and conventional medicine is not always the answer.ReferencesBarnes, P.M., Powell-Griner E., McFann, K. and Nahin, R.L. (2002).
Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults: United States, 2002. ScienceDirect. Volume 2, Issue 2, June 2004.
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