Monday, June 29, 2009

Alternative Medicine Expanding into the Mainstream

In recent times, an increasing number of people have begun directing their attention toward alternative medicine for preventing and treating illnesses and solving their day-to-day health-related issues. Consider these statistics: Between 1990 and 1997 there was a 47 percent increase in visits to alternative practitioners, from 427 million to 629 million, bypassing the estimated total number of visits made to all conventional primary care doctors in 1997; currently, one out of every three Americans use some kind of alternative medicine—despite skepticism and, in some cases, strong opposition by the modern medical establishment to the use of these unconventional techniques.

The public’s increased acceptance and use of alternative medicine suggests an inherent dissatisfaction with the conventional medical system. Research shows that patients want natural, safer remedies and physicians who regard them as whole persons—minds and spirits as well as bodies—and who have respect for the innate mechanisms of healing. For example, an integrative practitioner inquires into not only a patient’s specific symptoms but to all lifestyle, psychosocial, and spiritual influences affecting their quality of life. The subsequent treatment plan includes recommendations such as increased physical activity, dietary changes, stress reduction and positive coping skills such as yoga, meditation, prayer or biofeedback in addition to any specific therapies.

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