Alternative medicine has been around for centuries, although it has just started to become very popular in countries such as The United States. Many people now are following the trend without knowing anything about alternative medicine. People should be aware of the benefits as well as the precautions involved in taking these natural remedies. The most common form of alternative medicine nowadays is herbal medicines. These natural remedies can be found in millions of American homes today. Herbal medicine is probably the most widely used of the alternative medicines.
Herbal medicine is a part of homeopathy, which is an alternative system of healing that uses very small doses of substances to relieve specific symptoms (2). Traditional herbalists tend to use combinations of small amounts of herbs to meet the needs of the patient. Natural medicines are a part of our world. There are natural remedies to many everyday illnesses. Natural medicines have been used through out the history of the world. There are records of the Egyptians using them in 1,600 BC. There are scriptures that date back to the Yin dynasty in 1,500 BC.
The Old Testament also has many references to herbal medicines. The ancient Chinese were experts at natural medicine. They were experts on using plants, animals and minerals to heal themselves(7). The Chinese’s natural medication didn’t start diffusing over to Europe until the 2nd century, but there were many similarities in the Chinese’s and the Egyptian’s natural medicines (7). There are several benefits to in using alternative medicines. First, alternative medicine does not separate symptoms of a physical nature from those of a mental-emotional nature (6).
This theory from ancient China expects specific mental/emotional conditions to go along with certain disease patterns, and expects these emotional symptoms to respond to treatment as well as any physical symptoms(6). Also, in alternative medicine each and every sign and symptom is understood and interpreted in relationship to all the others. While a medical doctor might choose to send a patient with a variety of symptoms to two or three specialists, a good practitioner of traditional alternative medicine sees and understands all the symptoms together as a single pattern.
Any treatment prescribed is designed to work effectively with the entire pattern and all its symptoms. Done skillfully, alternative medicine does not separate a person treating one symptom or part at the expense of another. It is designed to treat the person, not just the disease. Alternative medicine emphasizes the individual person. “Because of it holistic view of the body/mind, it is more specific for each patient’s needs than is Western medicine”(9). For example, five women may come into a clinic with the same problem, but each of the problems is accompanied by a variety of different signs and symptoms, no two of which are exactly alike.
Instead of each woman getting the same treatment, each of these five women will receive an individually tailored treatment plan with different herbs, different acupuncture therapy, and different lifestyle suggestions (9). Alternative medicine has no side effects. “Because treatment is so specifically tailored to each person, if the diagnosis has been correct, the treatments prescribed by Alternative medicine should have no side effects”(9). Any mild side effects that may arise in the initial stages of herbal treatment can be corrected by adjustments to the herbal formula.
Most drugs prescribed by doctors have at least some expected and normal side effects and many have potentially serious, irreversible ones. Alternative medicine has a strong emphasis on prevention. In Western medicine, diagnosis can only be made and treatment given if there are measurable material or tissue changes that show up in pictures or in blood or fluid tests(5). If a person complains of symptoms which cannot be measured by these tests, Western doctors usually just say that there is nothing wrong, so therefore the patient cannot be given a treatment.
For example, a person may complain of feeling as if they have a constant lump in the throat, feeling as if they must sigh all the time, feeling inappropriate anger, or that their lower body is as cold as ice, or that they are anxious all the time. To the western doctors, none of these symptoms may be clinically meaningful or treatable. However, to the practitioner of alternative medicine, these types of symptoms have great clinical meaning(5). They indicate to him or her that changes have occurred in the body and mind which, if untreated over a period of time, will lead to actual tissue changes, and therefore, more serious disease.
This is significant because it means that a good practitioner of alternative medicine can treat disease and prevent the onset of more serious diseases. Alternative medicine also offers self-empowerment(9). Because alternative medical theories are based upon direct observation of nature, it is easier for a patient to grasp an understanding of their disease process as seen and described by alternative medicine. Its explanations describing the disease process come from the natural world, to which most people can easily relate.
Understanding of how a disease has formed allows the possibility for lifestyle changes on the part of the patient herself. This knowledge of their disease gives the patients a better undertanding about how to improve and control their health. This is one of the most important aspects of alternative medicine. There are many different natural medicines. One herbal remedy, garlic is actually found in most homes, but it is used for cooking purposes. Many people do not realize that Garlic has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. Garlic is very good for you.
It has been used for medical purposes for so long that it cannot be traced. It is native to Siberia and much of Southern Europe(3). The clove is the part that is used for medical purposes. Garlic has many medical uses. It is used for colds, coughs, bronchitis, and other bacterial sicknesses. Garlic also helps to control blood pressure and cholesterol. The Chinese used it for tuberculoses, coughs and digestion problems. Garlic is taken in the form of tablets, capsules, syrup, and fresh cloves (3). Ginger is also a common herbal medicine found in many homes. Ginger is an oriental spice used as a circulatory stimulant(4).
It relieves gas, and colic, it induces sweating, lowers blood cholesterol, and relieves motion sickness. It is used in the form of a fresh root, powder or tablets. (1). Ginkgo is an antioxidant herb(4). It increases circulation, reduces premature memory loss, aging & senility. “Ginko Biloba is able to inhibit the occurrence of cerebral edema and eliminate its neurological consequences”(4). It reduces the tendency for dangerous clots or thrombi to form in veins & arteries(4). Ginkgo biloba Extract is an herb that helps arteries in the legs & relieves pain, cramping & weakness.
It increases circulation of blood flow. Ear problems are improved with Ginkgo Biloba, due to improved blood flow to the nerves to the inner ear(1). It is found to benefit chronic ringing in the ears “tinnitus”(1). “This herbal remedy has had a 92% success rate in patients with cerebrovascular insufficiency in which all pathological findings disappeared after 18 days of treatment”(4). “Ginko Biloba is believed to inhibit water retention, enhance cellular energy, strengthen the heart, help oxygenate the blood prevent clotting, improve brain functions ; memory retention”(6). It is also thought to help asthma.
These herbal remedies are just a few examples of the many different herbs used for medicinal purposes today. Alternative medicine is booming in our nation. More and more people are turning to these treatments for relief. Because of the many benefits involved in herbal medicine, many people are even using these alternative treatments before consulting a medical doctor. They believe that because these herbs are available over the counter like asprin that they are perfectly safe. In actuality, many of these herbs have not been proven safe by the food and drug administration, and should not be treated like candy.
With many different types of treatments, it is up to the patient, with recommendations from their doctor, to seek out the best treatment for their illness. Even though alternative medicine is used frequently, a person must be careful when considering this option. It is recommended that you first learn as much as possible about the specific therapy you want. Bibliography: 1. “Aloe Vera. ” 1001 Herbs for a Healthy Lifestyle. 1998 1001 Herbs. http://www. 1001herbs. com/aloevera/index. html 2. “Bacillus Sibtilis, Megaterium, Cereus. ” http://www. sunysccc. edu/academic/mst/microbes/11bsubt. htm 3. “Clinic Pharmacy. ” 2000 C. H.
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