When we speak of medicine or treatment of diseases, we often take into consideration, only the scientific or commonly known as Allopathic medicine. However, in reality, there are a wide range of therapies and treatments in the world that do not involve use of any chemicals and are considered to be safe.
These practises or therapies, form a second branch of medicine, known as Alternative Medicine or Alternate Therapy. The scientific strata call this form of treatment as baseless or unscientific. Even terms like ‘quackery’ are associated with it. But there are a large number of people who prefer these forms of medication to the conventional medical treatment.
These alternate therapies are practised with an aim to heal. It is the belief of those who follow it that the body suffers less damage overall through such alternate therapies. Since there is no empirical evidence that these alternate therapies fight diseases as effectively as general medicine, we cannot confirm this belief.
Let us now take a look at some of the most common alternate therapies:
It is a form of Chinese alternate therapy, where very thin needles are inserted into specific points (acupuncture) in the body. It is used most commonly for pain relief. Also, it is not used entirely on its own, rather with the normal course of a treatment.
Acupuncture is recommended for lower back pain, muscle stiffness, etc.
It is used to diagnose and treat mechanical issues of the musculoskeletal system. That includes the spinal cord, major joints and tissues. The belief is that these issues can affect the general health of a person, via the nervous system. The therapy involves manipulation of spine, setting of bones and massaging parts to relieve pains.
This is a popular form of alternate therapy, especially in India. It runs on the belief that ‘like cures like’, meaning, substances that cause diseases in healthy people, can cure them in sick people.
Medication in this system is delivered through solutions, which are poured onto sugar pills or homeopathic pills, which are then consumed.
A rather new creation, naturopathy, involves a combination of homeopathy, acupuncture, good diet and sufficient exercise. It draws from various natural healing ideas. Most often these treatments are said to have a placebo effect, where the disease cures itself overtime and a person feels like it is the medicine doing the trick.
Ayurveda, one of the oldest forms of medicine, practised anywhere in the world, originated in the Indus Valley Civilization, around 5000 BCE.
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term which means life-knowledge (Ayu-life, Veda – Knowledge). It basically involves, diagnosis of the patient, by checking the Nadi or pulse and various other factors like the tongue, eyes etc.
Medication involves crushing various herbs, known to have medicinal properties, using natural oils and other things. No form of chemical is permitted into the medication, as it is seen as a toxin.
Although Ayurveda falls under alternate therapies, most medical practitioners have conceded that the use of certain plants and herbs, to cure diseases, are similar to that in allopathy, where herb and plant extracts are used. However, it is considered a pseudoscience, due to lack of empirical evidence.
It is a well renowned, alternative healing practice, which originated in Japan.
It uses, what is referred to as ‘Palm Healing’. The healer, uses his palm, to radiate universal energy on the patient and this transfer of energy, in turn, causes a healing process which begins within the body.
• Faith Healing
• Chinese Medicine, etc.
Alternate medicine, used to be a lot more prominent and accepted earlier, before the advances in general medicine. People, even in the earlier parts of the 20th century, often turned alternate medicine, when they were told that their condition was not curable. But, mid-century, when there were some phenomenal discoveries made in the field of science and medicine, allopathy gained prominence and medical practitioners or doctors became Gods. Which is not wrong, considering how many lives are saved every day by them.
But there are certain advantages that alternate therapies have over normal medicine.
Advantages of Alternative Therapies
• They do not use harmful chemicals and are more than often, safer to consume for almost anyone, even children after a certain age.
• They are not as expensive as allopathic medications are, sometimes.
• They have healing as their base. So the idea is not just to cure and leave it, but to heal the body.
• Allopathic medication uses extracts, while most medication in alternative therapy uses the plant as a whole. This means it is cost effective.
• It is said to have a longer lasting effect and can be taken over a longer period without any significant harm.
• Many forms of alternate healing, like faith healing, don’t use any medication at all. They simply make use of spiritual beliefs and prayers. This is least harmful if done in a normal and non-extreme fashion.
And like anything that has advantages, alternate therapy has its disadvantages too. Looking at both advantages and disadvantages will help you get a clearer picture of what is more feasible.
Disadvantages of Alternate Therapies
• Takes a very long time to show effect. Sometimes months or years too
• There may be allergic reactions that cannot be understood previously, since no tests are conducted as such.
• Medication in alternate therapies, may not suit everyone. It could make a situation worse.
• There is no concrete diagnosis. Allopathic medical practitioners, make use of a variety of tests before prescribing any medication. But in alternate therapies, there is only diagnosis based on the senses.
• The most serious criticism against alternative therapies is that, there is no empirical evidence that it can actually cure a disease. Only theories exist.
They say that all healing takes place in the mind. They also say that you if you can’t see the results, it isn’t real.
But the ultimate question is about your faith in the process. We are all slaves of our mind. If our mind believes we can be cured through one thing and not the other, our body will never be completely fine.
Real or not, alternate therapy is an existing practise. One which has gained prominence and followers worldwide. And after all, no matter what the medicine. If it goes in and kills the disease, it is a miraculous poison!
So go on.. name your poison?