Alternative Medical Therapy: Overview


Alternative medicine is a form of medical practice that is outside the conventional medicine field. It has a wide range of healing philosophies, approaches, and therapies which may include: chiropractic, naturopathy, homeopathy, acupuncture, and Ayurveda. It means approaches to health and healing that do not rely on drugs, surgery, or other conventional medical procedures (Trivieri, Anderson & Goldberg, 2002, p.4) Background and historical use of the alternative medical therapy.

The actual time of practicing alternative therapy is not accurate, but it is believed to have been practiced 5000 to 6000 thousand years ago. Alternative medicine has been seen in the ancient scrolls of India, Egypt, and China. It can also be traced to ancient civilizations like in the European tradition there were traditional healers; professional healers for the high class and folk healers for the lower class (Bakhru, 2007).In the western culture, philosophy was frequently used to assist the folk healers to holistically try to treat the patients. The most common forms of therapies used in the west were Naturopathy, hydrotherapy, and herbal medication.

One of the oldest forms of therapy is massage traced back to ancient Egypt and the pyramids (Bakhru, 2007). Massage can also be seen during the time of Alexander the Great. He recommended rubbing the body with oil and water as a remedy for weariness (Freeman, 2004, p.391). The Spartans and Athens used to massage the men and the youth after games. The alternative therapies dealt with the patient as a whole.

They considered the physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being of a person rather than the symptoms. Methods of alternative medical therapy:

Manipulative and body-based therapies. They include: chiropractic; focuses on the relationship between the spine and the function of the nervous system in the maintenance and restoration of health. Massage therapy; the body tissues are manipulated using oils that can be aromatic that bring about wellness and reduction of pain and stress.

Reflexology; is manual pressure applied on specific parts of the foot that are believed to correspond to different organs of the body.

Mind and body technique

They are based on the theory that mental and emotional factors influence physical health through a system of mainly neural and hormonal connections throughout the body. They include;

Biofeedback electronic devices are used to provide information to patients about biological function in their body for example heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle activity. (Porter, Kaplan, Homeier, 2005). Hypnotherapy: patients are put into a state of relaxation. They become absorbed into the images presented by the hypnotherapist and are relatively unaware of their surroundings but not is used to treat pain syndrome and conversion disorders (Porter, Kaplan, Homeier, 2005).

Energy therapies

They focus on the energy fields thought to exist in and around the body. They include; Therapeutic touch: this method uses the therapist healing energy to identify and repair imbalances in patients’ bodies. Biologically based therapies:

This therapy uses naturally occurring substances that are biological or dietary based. For example, orthomolecular medicine uses a high dose of minerals, amino acids, and vitamins that occur in the body to treat specific conditions.

Training of the practitioners of alternative Medical therapy: Traditionally the art of healing was passed down from one generation to the other through informal settings. The medical practitioner would take the students with him and they would learn from observation rather than a classroom setting where the students learn theoretically and practically. However, training has evolved dramatically due to well-informed and educated consumers who want to know about a product before buying. Therefore, there has been a great evolution of colleges that train students’ alternative medical therapy like Clayton College of Natural Health in Alabama, Texas Chiropractic College, Costa Rica School of Massage Therapy, and many more. They offer from diploma programmers to a degree.

Benefits of alternative Medical therapy: There has been no clear indication that alternative medical therapy works but to some people they believe it does work.

Most therapies have little or no compelling clinical evidence (O’mathu’na& Larimore p.25). It’s upon the individuals being treated to determine. However, we cannot ignore some testimonies of people who claim to have been healed from chronic illnesses like a girl who suffered from hypoglycemia and had attempted suicide several times. The girl visited a different psychologist but it was all in vain and was later referred to an alternative medical therapist who prescribed multivitamins. The cause of hypoglycemia was due to food allergies (Trivieri, Anderson & Goldberg, 2002, p.1)

Contraindications for particular individuals and particular conditions: Contraindications provide a basic framework for understanding when, and under what circumstances, a particular therapeutic intervention is appropriate for treating the patient with minimal risk of injury. Therefore, contraindications serve as a guideline to help us determine if we should institute certain precautions in treatment, withhold treatment altogether, or recommend alternative treatments that would be more appropriate (Batavia, 2003.p.1). There are special symptoms, conditions, diseases, or injuries that could be made worse or cause harm if certain therapeutic methods like massage are applied. Therapists are supposed to be able to determine if massage is appropriate for each client and its effects on the body (Stephen, 2006, p.33).

Research that evaluated the effectiveness of this alternative medical therapy: There is a relative paucity of data available to demonstrate convincingly the safety, efficacy, effectiveness, and mechanisms of these alternative medical therapies practices. For example, in the treatment of depression, there is research on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for patients with depression who do not respond to treatment with antidepressants and also research in the area of postnatal depression, which affects many mothers, but there is uncertainty about the most effective psychological treatment option. Belief in the treatment is not essential but the placebo effect may be enhanced by factors like faith, sympathetic attention, and testimonials (Humber,1998, p.5).

Recommendations for use of this alternative medical therapy: I would recommend training in conventional and alternative nursing whereby a person is treated physically, emotionally, and mentally, rather than just their symptoms. They are supposed to integrate conventional medicine with alternative medical therapies to alleviate pain and suffering. Right now there is an emphasis on alternative therapies all over the world and for the governments to eliminate the issue of quarks they must be ready to help the hospitals to integrate this conventional medicine with alternative therapies.

Implications for nursing practice

Just as other industries analyze work environments, healthcare researchers have begun work sampling as a basis for redesigning the registered nurse workplace. Such redesign holds the potential to increase time spent with patients, which in turn, could achieve those elements of job satisfaction that lead to positive patient outcomes. There is a good deal of evidence linking registered nurse staffing and job satisfaction to positive patient outcomes. It is reasonable to conclude that a stable, adequate staff maximizes opportunities for nurses to attend to patients, complete their work, derive work satisfaction, and provide safe, quality care (Hendrich 2006, p.2).

Reference list

Batavia, M. (2003). Contraindications for therapeutic massage: do sources agree? Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 8(1), 48-57.

Bakhru, K., B. (2007), the History of Alternative Medicine. Web.

Freeman, L., (2004), Mosby’s complementary & alternative medicine: a research-based approach. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

Hendrich, A., (2006), Hospital Work Environments: Implications for Nursing Practice and Patient Care Quality. Web.

Humber, J., M. (1998), Alternative medicine and ethics. Totowa, NJ: Humana press.

O’mathu’na, D., & Larimore, W. (2006), Alternative medicine: the Christian handbook. Michigan: Zonderan.

Porter, S., R., Kaplan, J., Homeier, B., p. (2005) Merck and Merck manuals. Web.

Stephens, R., (2006), Therapeutic chair massage. Baltimore mar: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Trivieri, L., Anderson, J., Goldberg B. (2002), Alternative medicine: the definitive guide. Berkeley: Celestial Arts.

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