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Alternative Medicine
Alternative Medicine

If you were to look up the word alternative in the dictionary, you would find the following definition: different from the usual or conventional; existing or functioning outside the established cultural, social, or economic system. Which is exactly what alternative medicine/therapy is. It is treatment that differs from the more mainstream options in healthcare, and is not commonly used by medical practitioners. But recently, more and more doctors have been prescribing alternative methods to supplement more conventional treatments. The idea is to promote and restore health using whatever means is effective. This paper will explore various treatments of alternative healthcare, why people are more apt to using them now then before, and recent developments in that field.

People choose to use alternative methods for various reasons. They are becoming increasingly aware of medical practices from different cultures. Many are

frustrated with what conventional medicine can do. The side effects of some

medicines make you feel even more sick than you already were. They have the desire to take fewer medications and experience fewer side effects. Alternative therapies also put more emphasis on healing the whole person, instead of just focusing on the disease. Alternative medicine also cuts personal health care costs.

An alternative method to coronary artery bypass graft surgery and angioplasty is a treatment called chelation therapy. It effectively treats coronary artery disease, symptoms of angina, and decreased blood flow to the brain. It is supposed to improve blood flow by clearing out calcium from blood vessels, which caused clogged arteries, thus relieving leg cramps, lowering blood pressure, and helping prevent heart attack and stroke. It was developed during World War II to help remedy against lead poisoning, and recent studies have shown that it also improves circulation. It works by drawing out toxic metals and other harmful substances that impair bodily functions and help the body eliminate these toxins via the kidneys. It does this by inserting the amino acid EDTA ( ethylene- diamine-tetra-acetic acid), either intravenously or orally. The FDA has proved EDTA to be a safe drug It is estimated that over 25,000 bypass operations can be eliminated each year with this treatment.

Another treatment of alternative healthcare is the ancient Chinese method of acupuncture. It is known to fight addiction, help in rehabilitation, and relieve pain after dental surgery, plus nausea and vomiting from surgery, chemotherapy, or pregnancy. It involves inserting solid hair-thin needles into key points of the body and manipulating them to relieve pain, promote healing, and improve well-being. Supposedly that needle unblocks a path of vital energy ( known as qi) that acupuncturists believe flows through your whole body. When this flow gets blocked, you get sick.

There are many different types of acupuncture besides sticking needles into pressure points of the body. One type is known as acupressure. During this needle-free form of acupuncture, the pressure points are stimulated with finger pressure. Another type is cupping. The acupuncturist puts a small heated cup over the pressure point , creating a vacuum to suck out or blow around the qi. Electroacupuncture is another technique used. It involves an electric current applied to the pressure point.

Another form is moxibustion. The acupuncturist burns a powdered herb called mugwort to warm up the needles - or stimulates the pressure points directly by burning the herb on or near them. Acupuncture is an effective treatment in providing temporary or permanent relief for a specific condition, but it should be used hand-in-hand with more conventional treatments.

Dietary supplements are another aspect of alternative healing. The body cannot make essential nutrients itself. Therefore, you have to get them from outside sources - usually either foods or dietary supplements, which are not too alternative. But many people are consuming vitamins, minerals, and other "natural" nutrients in doses higher than doctors and nutritionists recommend, believing that supplementing your diet with high doses of these substances has the power to keep you healthy, and even treat some diseases usually considered incurable. Studies show that at least some of the recommended dosages may be too low and that higher doses may help prevent diseases. It says that higher-than-recommended levels of certain nutrients -- especially vitamins C, D, and E -- may help prevent certain serious diseases, including osteoporosis, heart disease, and certain forms of

cancer. But an overdose of these nutrients could be hazardous to your health. Vitamin C may reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease, plus help you resist viral infections, but a high dose of it can push iron levels in the bloodstream to toxic levels before the vitamin itself leaves the body. Vitamin D, along with calcium, can play a role in preventing osteoporosis, the excessive bone loss and susceptibility to fractures that often happens older people. But a high dose of it can cause irreversible damage to kidneys and heart. Vitamin E may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease and reduce the risk of prostate cancer. It also may help protect against heart disease and prevent heart attacks. But again, a high dose of vitamin E may cause upset stomach, dizziness, or increased blood pressure. This method of alternative healing should be used in conjunction with a conventional method.

A recent development in the field of alternative medicine involves the dietary supplement vitamin A. There was a global campaign launched in 1997 to provide vitamin A to malnourished children around the world. It has saved almost one million lives since 1998. Vitamin A is an essential part of a child's diet to build up their immune system, to protect against childhood diseases. According to Reuters

Health Information, "vitamin A deficiency is a fact of life in 72 countries, primarily in Asia and Africa." So this alternative healthcare campaign is saving lives all across the world.

Another recent breakthrough in alternative healthcare is the discovery that folic acid supplements help prevent a second heart attack. It reduced blood levels of homocysteine and blood pressure in patients who have had a heart attack or stroke. A study was done by Dr. A. Mangoni and colleagues from King's College, London. They gave 5 milligrams of folic acid, daily for 6 weeks, to 10 patients who had suffered a heart attack or stroke. They found at the end of the 6 weeks, the blood pressure and homocystiene levels in the blood had decreased. More experimentation has to be done, but according to Dr. Mangoni "We are probably going to see an increase in vitamin supplementation as a tool to provide cardiovascular protection. . ."

As you can see from the information provided in my paper, alternative medicine is being used now more than ever throughout the world. People today are more apt to use them for many reasons, from costs to skepticism of more traditional

methods of healing. But while research is being done on these methods, and doctors are using them, most of them should still be used in conjunction with a more conventional form of treatment.

Bibliography

) Allan, Barbara. Guide to Information Sources in Alternative Therapy.

Vermont: Gower Publishing Company, 1988.

2) Collinge, William. The American Holistic Health Association Complete

Guide to Alternative Medicine. New York: Warner Books, 1996.

3) Feuerman, Francine and Marsha Handel. Alternative Medicine Research

Guide. Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1997.

4) The Burton Goldberg Group. Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide.

Washington: Future Medicine Publishing, Inc., 1994.

5) "Folic acid may help prevent second heart attack." Health Central.

5 December 2000

6) Pouls, Maile Ph.D "How Chelation Aids Cardiovascular Health."

Extreme Health USA.

7) "Vitamin A Effort Saving Children's Lives." Reuter's Health

Information. 12 February 2001
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Alternative Medicine. EssayMania.com. Retrieved on 12 Oct, 2010 from