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Complementary and Alternative medicine: Uses and History

The result of a study suggested that alternative medicine might help relieving psoriasis. / Photo by: udra11 via Shutterstock

 

Reuters recently reported that complementary and alternative medicine might be the answer in relieving psoriasis symptoms. These alternative medicines and approaches include acupuncture, meditation, and herbal remedies like indigo naturals or curcumin. Researchers from the University of Miami in Florida stated that The designs and outcomes measured to draw firm conclusions about the effectiveness of different types of non-traditional therapies, in which the result suggested that the interventions from complementary and alternative medicine might help some. The study used data from 60 studies of a wide variety of complementary and alternative medicine approaches to relieving psoriasis.

“Certain complementary and alternative medicine therapies, such as indigo naturalis, curcumin, fish oil, meditation, acupuncture, and hypocaloric diets, have been shown to be safe and effective treatments for psoriasis in randomized control trials, although fish oil had conflicting results,” Dr. Alexandra Price said via Email.  She also added that people should be aware of the natural therapies which are available over the counter since only a few of them have been studied and guaranteed in trials.

Price also advised that traditional treatments for psoriasis, like topical corticosteroids, topical vitamin D analogs, retinoids, and biological therapies, have the most data that supports their use and it is the most advisable treatment for psoriasis. Moreover, Dr. Steve Xu from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago also made a note for patients who want to choose other options, they should think of the risks that are associated with using complementary and alternative medicine since the results are not backed up with any scientific studies conducted by the experts. “If it works for my patient and they feel like they derive a benefit from it - who am I to discourage it or to be a naysayer,” Xu added.

 

According to Dr. Alexandra Price, acupuncture is one of the alternative medicine therapy that shown safe and effective treatment for psoriasis. / Photo by: Africa Studio via Shutterstock

 

What is complementary medicine?

Complementary medicine is used to describe therapeutic techniques that are not part of conventional medicine. It is used as a “complement” or addition to conventional medicine and in a website called breastcancer.org, they clarified that complementary medicine is not alternative medicine. They explained that complementary medicine is used with conventional medicine, while alternative medicine is used instead of using conventional medicine to relieve their illnesses. Moreover, conventional medicine has been proven to be safe and effective by numerous scientific studies and most of it shows that people who are diagnosed with breast cancer can get actual benefits from using complementary medicine.

Medicine Net also defined complementary medicine as a group of diagnostic and therapeutic disciplines that are used together with conventional medicine. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can include acupuncture, Alexander technique, aromatherapy, Ayurveda, diet therapy, homeopathy, meditation, and other examples of alternative medicine. In the past, complementary medicine has been claimed various types of “miracle” cures for cancer, which have since proved ineffective or even fraudulent. This approach is being adopted at leading cancer treatment centers and hospices and by self-help groups.

Alternative medicine and the conflict between medical sciences

Today, medical science has experienced a lot of innovations and advancements which leads to a lot of scientific journals and laboratory research that helped a lot of experts in finding new ways on how to help their patients to ease their illnesses. According to Science Nordic, unorthodox or alternative medicine thrives on divergent theories, which are more or less in conflict with orthodox medicine. During the 19th century, the world saw a dramatic development in the medical science and as scientists discovered more reliable data, they slowly abandoned the theory that their patient could have a better health if they used the right balance between fluids in the body, even though this Hippocratic theory had been cornerstone of medicine since antiquity.

Moreover, Science Daily described alternative medicine as the practices which are used in place of conventional medical treatments. It includes practices that have spiritual, metaphysical, or religious underpinnings. Alternative medicine, also known as fringe medicine, pseudo-medicine, or simply questionable medicine is the use and promotion of practices which are unproven, disproven, impossible to prove, or excessively harmful in relation to their effect in the attempt to achieve the healing effects of the medicine.

Alternative therapies may be credited for perceived improvement through placebo effects, decreased use or effect of medical treatment or the natural course of the condition or disease. Although some people might prove that alternative medicine is helping them, alternative or complementary medicine is dangerous because it could discourage people from getting the best possible treatment, and may lead to a false understanding of the body and of science. Despite this, large amounts of funding go to testing alternative medicine which is why alternative medicine is a highly profitable industry and this fact is often overlooked by media or intentionally kept hidden, with alternative practice being portrayed positively compared to “big pharma”.

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