Alternative medicine needs more publicity

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According to the Cleveland Clinic, Western medicine can be understood as the traditional health care that is received in the U.S. Whether a visit to urgent care due to a fever or a yearly wellness check, almost everyone in the U.S. has come in contact with Western medicine. The techniques are based on empirical scientific work, and thus, there is a major emphasis placed on Western medicine as the golden standard of care. Although Western medicine helps many, there should be alternative healthcare methods such as holistic, herbal and complementary medicine instead of letting people think that they do not have options beyond traditional Western treatments.

The basis of Western medicine is rooted in scientific evidence. American society greatly values science and often uses it to justify what is considered right. One major category of Western medicine includes pharmaceuticals. A significant downside of using prescription drugs to treat medical issues is that the body relies on human-made drugs and can develop a dependency on them. The effect these kinds of drugs have on organs in the body can be detrimental if abused. 

Over the past decade, “abuse of several categories of prescription drugs has increased markedly in the U.S.” Western medicine is creating more health problems, such as addiction and drug abuse. The issue is a vicious cycle for patients as they risk becoming addicted to the drug helping them. This is where alternative medicine can play a part in bettering peoples’ lives.

Alternative medicine emphasizes personal responsibility, which can facilitate adherence. Using these unconventional methods in conjunction with Western medicine or by itself can decrease patients’ symptoms and further negate the risks that come with solely relying on prescribed drugs or other harmful substances. Those practicing unconventional medicine are often not bound by scientific objectivity, allowing alternative medicine to be more optimistic and positive than Western medicine. These characteristics set alternative medicine apart from other methods of healing patients by enhancing the placebo effect and putting more belief and power in the capabilities of the human body. 

An example of the success of alternative medicine is the concept of biofeedback, a type of mind-body therapy. A biofeedback specialist tries to teach you to control involuntary movements like brain activity, blood pressure, muscle tension and heart rate. Research on alternative healthcare indicates that, “Biofeedback has been shown to be helpful in treating medical conditions including asthma, Raynaud’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, incontinence, headaches, cardiac arrhythmias, high blood pressure, epilepsy, etc.” Another alternative method is the use of herbal medicines that can be used to treat various problems, from fatigue to immune system dysfunctions and more. Herbal medicines possess antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, which can protect against infections and be applied to cancer and antidiabetic therapy. 

In addition to the health risks of Western medicine, affordability is another issue. The United States has one of the most expensive healthcare systems in the world. Healthcare has become more of a business than a means to help people with their health, making it more unreliable. This economic structure that Western medicine follows and capitalizes on is not built to benefit the patient. The prescribed drugs and medications given to people are purchased through this system and used for profit with little regard to the negative effects, such as addiction or internal damage.

Big Pharma companies are the ones profiting as health is treated like a commodity. David Badcott, an honorary research fellow working in the pharmaceutical industry, says, “Big Pharma companies seek to maximize sales of a product through advertising and employing representatives who visit general medical practitioners and hospital doctors and pharmacists.” Advertising through doctors and other health professionals is unacceptable and makes people pawns of the healthcare system. Expanding alternative medicine awareness through the media and healthcare workers is vital. Patients should be educated on all options available, including alternative medicine.

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