Complementary and Alternative Treatments: How They Change Healthcare

Western medicine never stops achieving technological advancements. And yet, more and more people are considering alternative medicine. According to Pew Research, about half of Americans have tried a form of alternative medicine, like herbal supplements, at least once in their lives. About a fifth of Americans choose alternative medicine instead of conventional treatment, and approximately three in ten combine both.

Herbal medicines are the most popular form of alternative treatment. The World Health Organization (WHO) has found that around 80% of people around the world use them.

The growing popularity of such unconventional treatments makes them not so alternative anymore. Instead, they’re becoming the first choice of many. This has changed healthcare in unexpected ways. You’d think that by now, we’d already had the technology that would cure all types of cancers. But society seems to move backward in time again to try “pseudoscience” treatments.

That said, here’s how unconventional treatments is changing healthcare:

The Doctor-patient Relationship Has Improved

The doctor-patient relationship, or DPR for short, appears to be better in alternative treatment settings. In a traditional clinic, patients normally undergo a series of basic checkups before being diagnosed or treated. Their doctor would check their heart rate and breathing patterns and ask questions about their general health. Research shows that patients don’t actually find this routine helpful.

On the other hand, people who undergo complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are found to desire to spend more time with their practitioners. They cited such as part of the reasons they sought out CAM. These patients reported not feeling heard by their physicians, so they switched to alternative treatments instead.

Thankfully, traditional medicine adapted to meet their patients’ desires. For musculoskeletal conditions, for example, which are among the most common conditions treated by CAM, some traditional clinics now offer effective integrative medicine. Integrative medicine combines both traditional treatments and CAM. And like CAM, it’s focused on overall health and wellness rather than just the disease itself. Hence, if you’ve fractured a bone from playing a sport, an integrative medicine practitioner won’t just mend your broken bone and let you go. Instead, they’d treat your injury and explore other therapies to help improve your playing technique and self-care methods. As a result, you can recover from the injury and go back to your sport with a new perspective. This makes you connect better with your practitioner because they had your entire well-being in mind.

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The Demand for Natural Remedies Increased

Since CAM promotes the body’s natural healing response, it has increased the demand for natural remedies. While CAM shouldn’t replace conventional medicine, integrative approaches have proven that combining CAM with prescription drugs leads to the best results. Many recipients of CAM have reported experiencing side effects from prescription drugs alone. But when they combined them with alternative treatments, they experienced fewer side effects.

Aside from herbal medicine, natural remedies include acupuncture, chiropractic, hypnotherapy, and meditation. Studies have shown that these therapies have mental and physical health benefits. They don’t cure diseases directly, but they induce relaxation that aids in healing. This relaxation also results in a positive mindset, motivating people to seek full recovery.

People Sought Out Alternative Mental Health Treatments

As mental disorders continue to face stigma from society, many people shy away from counseling and therapy. Though it’s not an excuse to continue suffering, we really can’t blame those affected. After all, not everyone gets the support they need for their mental health. Some employers, parents, or partners don’t believe in it or downplay it. Not all health insurance plans cover psychological treatments either.

Thanks to alternative mental health treatments, people with mental health issues have found a more accessible treatment. Yoga, meditation, and art therapy, for example, have been found helpful in reducing stress and anxiety. Again, they don’t replace traditional treatments, but as complementary treatments, they enhance the effects of medications.

Other treatments, like guided imagery, are also found to help patients with stress, anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Guided imagery is a type of meditation that makes a patient concentrate on a particular object, sound, or experience. Its goal is to calm the mind and increase mindfulness. It supposedly helps you cope better with stress or a daunting event, like surgery.

Hypnosis, another type of mental health treatment, also boosts mindfulness. It puts you in a trance-like state that can clear your mind and help you process ideas better.

Unconventional treatments may be just a placebo, but all of them have been proven to change brain activity. Whether it’s the treatment or the patients themselves that have caused the change, it shows that CAM can help make people’s healthcare endeavors a success. Hence, CAM will continue to gain popularity and transform healthcare.

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