Alternative Medicine on the Rise

Nutrition Health Review, Winter 1997 | Go to article overview

Alternative Medicine on the Rise


In recent years, alternative medicine has produced a devout following. More people are experimenting with treatments outside conventional medicine. Acupuncture, herbal remedies, and chiropractic are becoming common within the medical community. As a result of this rapid growth and increasing popularity, health providers have begun to recognize alternative medicine as a legitimate field and are increasing knowledge about this practice for physicians, students, and patients. Alternative medicine has become so widespread and accepted that it may require a new name.

The popularity of alternative medicine is based on many of its characteristics. According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), "Reasons cited for the trend toward the use of alternative therapies include dissatisfaction with conventional health care that is perceived as ineffectual, too expensive, or too focused on curing disease rather than maintaining good health." (JAMA 9-2-98) Alternative medicine enables individual patients to play an active role in their health-care. Having control over treatment puts people at ease and allows them to concentrate on getting well. Also, fewer cases of malpractice have been reported with alternative treatments.

According to JAMA (11-11-98), "Alternative medicine accounts for approximately 5% of the total medical malpractice insurance market ... The best explanation for the relative infrequency and lower severity of claims against alternative medicine practitioners concerns the nature of alternative therapies. Since rates of medical injury increase with invasiveness of therapy, fewer bases for suit are likely to present in the largely noninvasive alternative medicine setting. Moreover, injuries that do occur may not be as severe." Safety also contributes to the popularity of alternative medicine.

Many hospitals in the Philadelphia area have been supplementing their conventional care with alternative therapies. After years of being accused of quackery, practitioners of alternative medicine are finally being recognized by hospitals and are gaining respect. …

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