Alternative Medicine: Giving Your Treatment Options Another Look

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By Jessica Giles

didyouknow?Many people are giving alternative medicine another look. From potions to pills to acupuncture, and more. And, it’s not just for medical problems. They’re also looking into it for dental and oral hygiene. Here’s what it’s all about, and a few things you might want to try.

Pain Relief

Many people turn to alternative medicine because they’re unsatisfied with the way mainstream medicine handles their pain. In a study published in the American Journal Of Managed Care, researchers surveys about 6,000 people with chronic pain, and conditions which ranged in severity. Many were members of an HMO in Oregon and Washington. The researchers also got access to members’ electronic medical and health records.

They could find out what treatments these patients had used, and they wanted to see if any alternative approaches were recorded in their file. The researchers found 47% of people surveyed said they used chiropractic care for pain relief between 2009 and 2011. 32% said they used acupuncture, and 21% said they used both. A stunning 42% who went with just the chiropractor said they didn’t discuss the treatment with their medical doctor. And, 35% of people who went to an acupuncturist said they didn’t discuss it with a medical doctor.

On Pain Management

Researchers also found that the majority of patients with chronic illness and pain used acupuncture and chiropractic care. But, researchers didn’t look at whether people believed in the benefits of those treatments, compared to traditional pain control and management methods.

The most common reasons cited for not seeking chiropractic care of acupuncture was that they didn’t think the methods would help them. Some said that they hadn’t considered these pain-relief methods, and some didn’t know a reputable practitioner, or said the cost was too high.

Many of those surveyed said that they were in severe chronic pain, and lived in the U.S. on the west coast, where the use of alternative therapies are more popular than in other areas of the country.

HMOs’ coverage of these therapies is often better than in other insurance plans in other areas of the country, but the results are representative of overall usage of people who seek out alt therapies for chronic pain.

People who do have chronic pain often turn to complementary medicine because they tend to have more dialogue with alternative medicine practitioners than with doctors.

What’s The Difference?

Many people do not understand the difference between the two modalities or even between traditional or conventional medicine and alternative medicine. The first difference, is health. Conventional medicine sees health as an absence of disease. Alternative medicine often starts with the premise that balance of opposing forces is what keeps everything in check. And, that being “out of balance” causes illness.

When it comes to disease, conventional medicine sees disease as a specific thing, which is locally defined, and is classified as a deviation in organ or tissue function. Alternative medicine practitioners tend to look at the body holistically, and instead see disease as a body-wide problem.

Diagnosing Problems

Traditional medical practitioners stress morphological classification based on location and aetiology. Alt medicine, on the other hand, sees functional problems as diagnostically significant.


Conventional medicine will often see its job as one of destruction — to destroy the sickening forces that ail the patient. Alternative medicine tries to strengthen the patient’s natural immune system so that it can fight the illness off.

How The Two Approaches See The Patient

Traditional medicine sees the patient as passive, and as a recipient of the treatment. There is little, or no, input from the patient. Medical processes are mechanical in nature. In alternative medicine, the patient is part of the treatment process. The patient’s compliance is often relied upon for success of the treatment, and patients are made aware that, if they do not comply, then success is basically impossible.


While both conventional and alternative medicine attempt to treat the patient, they both do it in fundamentally different ways. Conventional medicine relies heavily on pharmaceutical drugs, and mechanical interventions, for example.

Alternative medicine relies heavily on interventions where the body is asked to “step up” and heal itself. Often this involved strengthening the immune system in some way, without the use of chemicals or pharmaceutical drugs. Often, practitioners will recommend herbs and botanicals to help speed up the healing process.

– Jessica Giles is a fitness instructor. In hopes of helping others live long and healthy lives, she likes to post her insights on the web. You can find her posts on a variety of health and fitness topics which usually focus on natural and holistic health in some way. Visit to read more about alternative medicine and good dental health.