Alternative Medicine: More Than A Harmless Option

By Lamarine, Roland J. | Journal of School Health, March 2001 | Go to article overview

Alternative Medicine: More Than A Harmless Option


Lamarine, Roland J., Journal of School Health


A fourth grade teacher learns that a nine-year-old student in her class has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. After surgery to remove the growth, the child's physicians recommend chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This treatment offers a survival rate greater than 50%.[1] After talking to friends and a "well-informed" clerk at the local health food store, the child's parents learn that sharks do not develop cancer because they are built of cartilage, which contains anti-cancer agents. They confide in the teacher that chemotherapy and radiotherapy are toxic and dangerous interventions, but shark cartilage is organic, pure, and natural. They suggest that using this "home remedy" will provide their child with greater autonomy and self-determination in addressing her illness. They decide to pursue the natural therapy.

This scenario, which still may not represent the norm, becomes more common with each passing year.[2] At the beginning of a new millennium, alternative medical practices continue to emerge and to thrive. During 1990, Americans paid more visits to alternative medical practitioners than to all primary care physicians combined, spending an estimated $13.7 billion on unproven and untested remedies.[3] Between 1990 and 1997, use of alternative medical therapies increased from 34% to 42% of Americans, with a conservative estimate of $21 billion in expenditures in 1997.[4]

As health educators, teachers, and health care providers chart a course for the 21st century, their role in supporting public health has never been more important. Lifestyle-related behaviors contribute significantly to the major causes of death. This paper encourages school health personnel to better prepare students to develop the ability to make thoughtful, reasonable decisions regarding health care behavior.

Specifically, the paper will: 1) examine characteristics of users of alternative therapies; 2) explore selected features of alternative medicine; 3) compare and contrast alternative with conventional medicine; 4) provide a general overview of how scientifically based medicine differs from many alternative practices; 5) challenge the notion that no harm results from using alternative medicine; and 6) offer recommendations to address problems related to inappropriate use of alternative medicine.

BACKGROUND

Several sources provide useful definitions of alternative medicine.[5,6] Sometimes called complementary medicine, alternative therapies encompass a range of approaches including everything from dietary supplements, herbs, and biological agents to manual healing, bioelectromagnetics, mind-body interventions, and alternative medical practices.[7] Alternative medicine includes therapies employed as part of traditional medicine and some approaches clearly exposed as quackery. This paper defines alternative medicine as unproven, untested, and disproven approaches. Some forms of conventional medicine also fall within this definition as well. One poignant description of alternative medicine suggests, "There is no alternative medicine. There is only scientifically proven, evidence-based medicine supported by solid data or unproven medicine for which scientific evidence is lacking."[8] Using this criterion, most of alternative medicine and much of conventional medicine, would be abandoned until sufficient testing were completed. New therapies should, where feasible, be tested scientifically for efficacy and safety.

CHARACTERISTICS OF USERS OF ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE

Recent research provides a profile of people most likely to use alternative medicine. Compared to nonusers, alternative medicine users were better educated, more often reported lower than average health status, and were more likely to view alternative health care as more congruent with their own values, beliefs, and philosophies toward health and life.[9]

The main benefit reported by users of alternative medicine was relief from symptoms of their illness. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Alternative Medicine: More Than A Harmless Option
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.