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What Is Alternative Medicine?

Alternative medicine encompasses a range of practices that range from changing your diet to inserting needles under the skin (acupuncture). It claims to treat health issues using unproven claims as to its safety and efficacy.

Sociodemographic variables were found to predict use of alternative medicine, including education level and dissatisfaction with conventional practitioners; however, these may not fully explain why certain people tend to rely on these alternative remedies more than conventional ones.

Holistic health philosophy

Holistic health philosophy emphasizes holistic wellbeing for the whole person, recognising that mind, body, and spirit are intertwined and that individuals possess their own energy systems. Holistic approaches emphasize “the whole is greater than its parts” as an ethos to live by; any imbalance can wreak havoc across various aspects of your life affecting other areas. Holistic practices have long been part of ancient healing traditions.

Holistic health encompasses various modalities that fall under its umbrella, such as massage therapy, acupuncture and various traditional practices. Although considered complementary to conventional medicine, alternative modalities differ significantly in several ways from modern practices in terms of their approach: traditional treatments often seek physical causes for illness while most alternative modalities take into account psychological or spiritual causes that could potentially contribute to it.

These forms of medicine, often referred to as complementary or integrative medicine (CAM), may not be taught at medical schools but they’re widely utilized in order to improve health and wellbeing. Some CAM therapists even integrate these practices into their regular practices.

To identify the most effective treatments for any given patient, it is crucial to take into account all aspects of his or her being. That is why holistic health has become such a popular philosophy; its advantages extend to all areas of life.

The revival of holistic health can be explained in part by Americans’ interest in alternative religious ideas, but also due to scientific medicine’s decreasing dominance and mounting consumer dissatisfaction with current healthcare systems. Furthermore, holistic healthcare has seen its popularity soar due to an ever-increasing need for wellness in an ever-more complicated, fast-paced world.

Researchers conducting multiple logistic regression found that three variables predicted use of alternative medicine: being more educated, belonging to the subculture of cultural creatives and having had an experience that transformed one’s worldview. While not statistically significant, these indicators show that people who turn to alternative medicines do so for reasons other than utilitarian. Most often it serves to enhance wellness and spiritual well-being.


Alternative medicine is founded on the idea that all parts of our bodies are interrelated and each has an effect on one another. It includes both Eastern and Western medical therapies like acupuncture, massage, herbal remedies, meditation and talk therapy as part of its practice; not as replacement to modern medical treatments such as surgery but rather complementary. By considering physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of patients it can make an incredible difference to healing outcomes.

Though the exact numbers using alternative therapies remain unknown, their usage is on the rise rapidly. An estimated 34% of adults utilized at least one unconventional form of health care; most frequently used were relaxation techniques, chiropractic and massage as these practices are most likely to occur among educated middle-class white persons aged 25-49 years; however this sample underrepresented non-English speaking segments as well as may have contained selection bias in its research methodology.

Alternative therapy users tend to embrace holistic approaches to health. This may be because alternative modalities encourage patients to address the mind-body connection, an important element in both illness and health. They may also appreciate spiritual aspects of alternative therapies like Ayurveda. According to this belief system, humans consist of five universal elements – space, air, fire, water and earth which are ruled by three energies known as vata, pitta and kapha.

Alternative therapists may be open to discussing their methods with patients and helping them incorporate these modalities into an overall treatment plan. It’s important to stress the importance of carefully considering all forms of health care before engaging in any treatments, and always consult a physician first before beginning an alternative medicine degree program. When selecting your program consider these questions:

Poorer health

Alternative therapies, which include diet and exercise changes, hypnosis, poking needles into your skin (acupuncture) and energy healing are increasingly gaining in popularity. Some practices such as acupuncture have been practiced for centuries while other practices such as qigong and tai chi are relatively recent additions that are becoming popular as an alternative to Western medical treatments; more research needs to be conducted before conclusively labeled complementary medicine or integrative medicine.

A 1993 study revealed that 34% of adults used at least one unconventional form of health care within the past year, including relaxation techniques and chiropractic. Researchers determined those who relied heavily on alternative medicine reported poorer health status than non-users and less satisfaction with conventional treatments, as well as being more likely to misattribute symptoms to disease than non-somatizers.

Researchers conducted an in-depth mail survey of 1035 persons regarding alternative health care use and beliefs, attitudes, and values of users of alternative medicine. Multiple logistic regression analyses were then run in order to ascertain predictors of primary reliance on alternative medicine – this analysis revealed that users of alternative health care are more likely to be educated white people who somatize and report dissatisfaction with conventional medicine while desiring more control over health related decisions than those who rely on conventional care alone.

The findings of this study should be taken with caution as its sample underrepresented poorer, less educated, and non-English speaking segments of society. However, it’s likely that results would remain similar had these groups been fully represented in its composition. Furthermore, this study was limited to alternative methods and did not explore other health-related behaviors or issues. These restrictions must be taken into account when interpreting future studies’ results. Though alternative remedies have their limitations, it remains evident that people use them because they more closely align with their personal values, beliefs, and philosophical approaches toward health and life.


Alternative medicine can provide the answers you need to improve both physical and spiritual wellness. Unlike conventional treatments, alternative medicines seek out and address the cause of the issue rather than mask symptoms; alternative approaches also tend to offer more customized wellness programs which give patients a sense of control over their bodies and lives. Like any form of medical therapy, alternative medicines do have advantages and disadvantages.

Many individuals are turning to alternative therapies as an effective means of healing themselves, often motivated by their desire to feel healthier and gain greater control in their lives. Furthermore, alternative medicine practitioners often take an integrated approach when providing healthcare treatment – treating mind, body and spirit all simultaneously which may prove more successful than traditional medical methods.

Alternative medicines in the US span a spectrum from herbal remedies and yoga to spiritual healing and energy medicine. Americans spent over $30 billion in 2012 for alternative medical treatments – these figures may seem high but they reflect an increasing belief in its power compared with conventional treatment which many view as ineffective or harmful as well as expensive and not covered by insurance plans.

Researchers conducted a large mail survey to explore factors that influence people to use alternative medicine. Participants completed a questionnaire that explored their past and current experiences with alternative medicine, perceived benefits and risks, health beliefs and attitudes, perspectives towards conventional medicine as well as political/worldview beliefs. Multiple logistic regression analyses were used to identify predictors of alternative medicine use. Our findings show that users tend to be better educated and take a holistic approach toward health. These individuals tend to report having experienced a transformative experience and being part of an artistic, cultural creative subculture, as well as worse health status than non-users. Most users opt for alternative therapies because it aligns more closely with their beliefs, values and worldview.