Complementary and Alternative Medicine

The long battle between alternative medicine and scientific medicine appears to be over with the appearance of complementary medicine. Complementary medicine tries to combine the best of both worlds by putting the health of the patient ahead of medical philosophy.

The term “alternative medicine” refers to traditional and other methods of treatments for which there is no discernible scientific basis. The term “scientific medicine” which is also called modern medicine, conventional or Western medicine refers to methods of medical treatment based purely or largely on science.

Traditionally practitioners of scientific medicine looked down upon alternative treatments as unscientific. At the same time, many alternate healers dismissed practitioners of scientific medicine as arrogant, aloof and uncompassionate.

Today the two sides appear to have signed a truce and are attempting to find common ground. This common ground consists of a compromise called complementary medicine. In complementary medical treatment, medical professors allow alternative practices as long as they do not harm the patient.

Complementary Medicine Means Respect for Patient

An example of complementary medicine would be for a surgeon to allow a patient to meditate or use an energy therapy before and after surgery. These therapies don’t interfere in the surgery and they often contribute to the psychological well being of the patient.

Much of the rise of complementary medicine can be attributed to the increased knowledge of non Western cultures such as China and the growing respect for their values and traditions. Many the treatments and techniques in alternate medicine are taken from Chinese, Indian and other Asian culture.

Another reason why complementary medicine has become popular is the changing attitude towards patients on the part of doctors and other health professionals. In countries like the United States, Britain and Germany doctors were considered as all wise and all knowing experts on health matters until recent decades. This attitude meant that many doctors held their patients thoughts and opinions in contempt.

Today doctors and other health professionals are taught to respect their patients and their opinions. Part of the reason for this respect is the growing number of women doctors. Women are often more empathetic and understanding than men are. Until quite recently most doctors were men and they were taught to boss their patients around.

Since doctors have to respect their patients opinions they have to listen to their ideas about medicine. This means doctors are forced to take patients beliefs into account and respect them.

Complementary Medicine Equals Opportunity

The spread of complementary medicine is creating many opportunities for alternative healthcare professionals. Many medical clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities are now employing chiropractors, herbalists, acupuncturists and other alternate medical practitioners.

Some medical facilities now have such professionals on staff and offer many alternate treatments to their patients on a regular basis. It is very common for chiropractors and massage therapists to be involved in physical therapy and patient rehabilitation for example.

Many practitioners of conventional medicine also recognize the healing potential of some alternative practices. Prayer and meditation are widely recognized as being beneficial to the healing process. Patients who engage in these practices may develop a better attitude and recover faster.

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