Alternative medicine

From WikiMD's Wellnesspedia

Alternative medicine represents a broad category of health therapies not traditionally included within conventional Western healthcare. These practices may be used in lieu of standard medical treatments, or in conjunction with them, a practice commonly referred to as "complementary medicine." In situations where both conventional and alternative practitioners coordinate their treatments, the approach is often termed "integrative medicine."


Principles and Practice[edit | edit source]

Alternative medicine practices often stem from spiritual, metaphysical, or religious beliefs, non-European medical traditions, or newly devised healing approaches. They do not typically rely on evidence collected through clinical trials; instead, they may be based on historical, cultural, anecdotal, or personal evidence.

Modalities[edit | edit source]

Prominent examples of alternative medicine modalities include:

  • Acupuncture: A component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to alleviate various ailments.
  • Chiropractic: Originating in the late 19th century, chiropractic practice is based on the manipulation of the spine and other parts of the body to treat ailments, particularly those related to the musculoskeletal system.
  • Homeopathy: Founded in the late 18th century, homeopathy utilizes highly diluted substances with the aim to stimulate the body's self-healing mechanisms.

Research and Evidence[edit | edit source]

The effectiveness and safety of alternative medicine practices can vary widely, and robust scientific research supporting their use is often lacking. Nonetheless, some forms of alternative medicine, such as certain herbal remedies or mindfulness practices, have been supported by a growing body of research evidence. Patients should consult with healthcare professionals before initiating any alternative therapies, especially if they have existing medical conditions or are taking other medications.

Criticism and Controversy[edit | edit source]

Alternative medicine has been a subject of controversy within the healthcare community due to its departure from accepted medical approaches and a lack of evidence demonstrating its effectiveness. Concerns about the safety and quality of alternative treatments, including issues related to regulation and potential side effects, have also been raised.

Alternative Medicine Glossary[edit | edit source]

Alternative medicine encompasses a wide range of healthcare practices, therapies, and treatments that differ from conventional Western medicine. This glossary provides definitions for key terms and concepts in the field of alternative medicine.

A[edit | edit source]

  • Acupuncture: An ancient Chinese therapy that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and promote healing.
  • Aromatherapy: The use of aromatic essential oils from plants to enhance physical and psychological well-being.
  • Ayurveda: A traditional system of medicine that originated in India, emphasizing a holistic approach to health and balance through diet, herbs, and lifestyle.
  • Acupuncture: An ancient Chinese therapy that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and promote healing.

B[edit | edit source]

  • Black salve: A controversial topical ointment containing ingredients like bloodroot that some people use for skin conditions, although its safety and efficacy are not supported by mainstream medical evidence.
  • Bowen technique: A holistic therapy that involves gentle, rolling movements on specific points of the body to alleviate pain and promote relaxation.

C[edit | edit source]

  • Chiropractic: A healthcare discipline focused on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, particularly spinal issues, through manual adjustments.
  • Crystal healing: A practice that involves using crystals and gemstones to promote physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.

D[edit | edit source]

  • Dorn method: A form of manual therapy that aims to correct misalignments in the spine and joints to alleviate pain and improve overall well-being.
  • Dry needling: A technique used by some physical therapists to treat muscle pain and tension by inserting thin needles into trigger points within muscles.

E[edit | edit source]

  • Energy healing: Therapies like Reiki that involve the channeling of energy to promote healing and balance within the body.
  • Estrogen dominance: A concept suggesting an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone levels in the body, often discussed in alternative medicine circles.

F[edit | edit source]

  • Functional medicine: A holistic approach to healthcare that addresses the underlying causes of illness by looking at the patient's lifestyle, genetics, and environment.

G[edit | edit source]

  • Guided imagery: A relaxation technique that uses mental imagery and visualization to reduce stress and promote healing.

H[edit | edit source]

  • Herbal medicine: The use of plants and plant-based remedies, such as herbal teas and tinctures, for therapeutic purposes.
  • Homeopathy: A system of medicine based on the principle of "like cures like," where highly diluted substances are used to stimulate the body's self-healing abilities.

I[edit | edit source]

  • Infrared sauna: A type of sauna that uses infrared light to heat the body directly, often claimed to have various health benefits.

K[edit | edit source]

  • Kombucha: A fermented tea beverage believed by some to have health-promoting properties.

L[edit | edit source]

  • Lymphatic pump: Techniques used to stimulate lymphatic circulation and support the body's immune system.

M[edit | edit source]

  • Moxibustion: A traditional Chinese therapy that involves the burning of dried herbs near the skin to stimulate acupuncture points.

N[edit | edit source]

  • Naturopathy: A holistic approach to healthcare that emphasizes natural remedies, nutrition, and lifestyle modifications to support the body's ability to heal itself.

O[edit | edit source]

  • Osteopathy: A form of manual therapy that focuses on musculoskeletal alignment and its impact on overall health and well-being.

P[edit | edit source]

  • Power Balance: A brand of hologram-embedded wristbands and pendants that were marketed as improving balance and strength, though scientific evidence did not support these claims.
  • Psychic surgery: A controversial practice in which healers claim to remove physical ailments and diseases using their hands, despite a lack of scientific validity.
  • Poly-MVA: A dietary supplement that includes minerals, vitamins, and amino acids, often marketed as a potential treatment for cancer.

Q[edit | edit source]

  • Quackery: The promotion of fraudulent or ineffective medical treatments and remedies, often with the intent to deceive and profit.
  • Quantum healing: A concept suggesting that quantum physics principles can be applied to healing practices, although it lacks scientific support.

R[edit | edit source]

  • Reflexology: A therapy that involves applying pressure to specific points on the hands, feet, and ears to promote relaxation and healing in corresponding areas of the body.
  • Reiki: A Japanese energy healing technique where practitioners channel healing energy into the recipient through touch or proximity.

S[edit | edit source]

  • Shiatsu: A Japanese form of massage therapy that involves applying pressure to specific points on the body to promote relaxation and balance.
  • Sophrology: A relaxation and meditation technique developed in Europe that combines elements of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.
  • Spagyric: A holistic approach to herbal medicine that involves alchemical processes to extract and enhance the therapeutic properties of plants.
  • Stone massage: A type of massage therapy that incorporates heated or chilled stones to promote relaxation and alleviate muscle tension.
  • Sungazing: A controversial practice in which individuals stare at the sun, often with the belief that it has various health benefits.

T[edit | edit source]

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): A comprehensive system of medicine that includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, and various therapies to balance the body's vital energy (qi) and promote health.
  • Turmeric juice: The consumption of juice from the turmeric root, believed by some to have anti-inflammatory and health-promoting properties.

V[edit | edit source]

  • Violet ray: An electrical device that generates ozone gas and is sometimes used in alternative medicine practices for various therapies.

Y[edit | edit source]

  • Yoga: A mind-body practice that combines physical postures, breath control, and meditation to enhance flexibility, strength, and mental clarity.
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