According to a survey by Angus Reid in Canada conducted in September 1997, over 42 percent of the country’s population now uses natural healing methods and/or visits a doctor offering alternative treatments (Sikand, 1062). Why has this dramatic shift occurred?
Modern and conventional medicine is a big paradox. Emergency care for accidents and trauma victims saves numerous lives every day while at the same time it is almost virtually ineffective against chronic degenerative diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a host of many others. The study of alternative medicine has for sometime remained controversial. This is clearly illustrated by a scathing editorial in the Canadian Journal of Public Health in 2007 which characterized alternative medicine principally by its lack of scientific testing and took its advocates to task for "denying the need" for such testing. “There is no alternative medicine”.
Humanity has always be seeking mechanism of putting to an end the effect of suffering and pain. Certain societies in the ancient past were highly successful. According to Richard and Debra Austin, Natural healing is nothing new in this world. It has existed since time immemorial and was practiced by the ancient Aryan culture of India and the sages of china (Austin, 29). The Egyptians and the Atlanteans knew secrets of healing that few people know of today.
Natural healing is premised on the attainment of a connection with nature for nature is the ultimate healer. According to Ernest (Ernst, 10) if we bring our bodies our minds and souls in tune with nature, a healing process starts to occur. For years skeptics have demanded to know why natural healing is great or why they or their medical doctors had never heard about it. Limited access to information and the inadequate desire of both patient and doctor to find better treatments is the answer. In the past, most people did not know any other options than those that their medical doctor was offering. Informed decisions about treatment options can only be made when we know what is available. Now we have more people learning more about alternative medicine and liking what they read. One person tells another person and eventually it becomes accepted doctrine.
Another reason why we have seen such a shift towards alternative medicine is the failure of many mainstream medical treatments. People are becoming dissatisfied with conventional medicine's drugs and the cut and burn approach to disease. Illnesses that are caused by too much stress, inadequate nutrition and environmental toxins do not respond well to prescription drug remedies. These diseases are not caused by a deficiency of Prozac, but lifestyle and environmental problems. The development of bacteria resistant to antibiotics and viruses, which mutate very fast that treatments that were formerly effective are now useless, have also made people realize that there must be a way that is better.
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Critics of natural healing exist in numerous numbers and forms. According to James Alcock, natural healing has an appeal to the extent that conventional remedies fail to provide relief (Alcock, 1178). Indeed, the areas where alternative therapies seem to have most appeal is in the very areas where conventional therapies are not able to satisfy the expectations of the consumer, like chronic headaches and low energy, allergies, backaches, nausea, arthritis, things which are often caused by or exacerbated by emotional disorders or stress.
The alternative therapist, through validating the client's complaints and often their eccentric worldview, providing optimism for conquering the grievances, and giving much delicate attention and support, can indirectly serve some of the emotional needs that often bring about many complaints that doctors dismiss. They also offer hope for conditions that physicians are unable to cure. According to Stephen Barret, MD, dubious claims are being made by acupuncturists-a form of natural healing-that it can cure chronic pain acute injury-related pain, cardiovascular conditions, gastrointestinal problems, genitourinary problems and many others (Stephen, 150).
Three Dutch epidemiologists in 1990 analyzed 51 acupuncture controlled studies for chronic pain and came to the conclusion that the studies were mediocre. The efficiency of acupuncture treating of chronic pain remains doubtful. They also did examination of reports acupuncturists used to treat addictions, and came to the conclusion that claims that acupuncture is effective as a therapy for these conditions are not supported by sound clinical research. George Ulett, a clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of Missouri School of Medicine, stated that "devoid of metaphysical thinking, acupuncture becomes a rather simple technique that can be useful as a nondrug method of pain control."(Ulett, 233).
Sweeping claims have been made on the efficacy of natural healing and alternative medicine, however, the scientific evidence for them often lags far behind: studies and clinical trials, when they exist at all, can be sloppy in design and too small to yield reliable insights. Now, governments the world over are working hard to raise the standards of evidence, seeking to distinguish between what is effective, useless and harmful or even dangerous alternative medicine.
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For instance, a 2004 Harvard study identified 181 research papers on yoga therapy reporting that it could be used to treat a remarkable array of diseases including asthma, heart disease, hypertension, depression and high blood pressure. It turned out that only 40% of the studies used randomized controlled trials the usual way of establishing reliable knowledge about whether a drug, diet or other intervention is really safe and effective. In trials like these, scientists randomly assign patients to a treatment or a control group with the aim of eliminating bias. Clearing this fog is therefore necessary in order to legitimize alternative medicine that is authentic and can be practically used in curing illnesses while at the same time protecting the safety of persons.
Natural healing, or integrative medicine, is considered as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. They include all such practices and ideas, self-defined by their users as preventing or treating illness or promoting health and well-being. The importance of this practice cannot be undermined, considering the challenges being faced by the masses who believe in natural healing by applying herbal elements in treatments of various prevailing ailments.
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The most important thing about alternative medicine is the fact that they are cheap and reliable and fully functional. If the disease is diagnosed properly and the treatment done by a professional physician, it gives exclusive results. Another major factor which fascinates even the modern physicians is that there are almost all zero chances of side effects from these medicines. This therefore should be a call to governments to start giving great consideration to this kind of healings and pump in funds to initiatives that conduct research on the safety and efficiency of natural cures. Institutions of higher learning should also be on the forefront in the quest to legitimize these cures and unearth medical hoaxes and quacks that thrive on mystery to siphon money from patients claiming the ability to cure various chronic illnesses that contemporary medicine has failed to cure
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