Labels, as common as they are in society, can often be deceiving and health care offers a prime example. The term alternative medicine is often used to describe non-pharmaceutical approaches to health and wellness, but when you attempt to construct a black-and-white definition, there seems to be a lot of gray.
US News and World Reports recently ran an article titled “What is Alternative Medicine?” where it spoke to National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health Deputy Director David Shurtleff. The report explained that the Center considers the use of “alternative” medicine in that sense as very rare. “The organization defines alternative medicine as any non-conventional interventions that are used instead of conventional treatments, not in conjunction with them. Interventions like yoga, acupuncture, herbal remedies and massage therapy may be alternative treatments, but are considered alternative medicine only when they’re used in place of conventional treatments.” This is quite the play on words. The group of healthcare practitioners that support our definition of alternative medicine are referred to as complementary or integrative practitioners. These healthcare providers understand that many chronic health issues can be treated using non-pharmaceutical treatments first, but will still prescribe drugs when needed. If you equate the word medicine to pharmaceutical, what you are looking for is an alternative to medicine. And there are plenty of these including yoga, mid-body medicine, dietary supplements, diet, and exercise. to name a few.
The real focus of our magazine is to educate you and provide information that you can discuss with your health care provider. Our website, alternativemedicine.com provides non pharmaceutical solutions for many health issues. Our goal is to provide lifestyle solutions to address chronic health issues. Exercise, meditation, and a healthy diet can have a positive impact on almost any chronic health issue, but don’t go it alone. If you want to eliminate your dependence on pharmaceuticals try adding these options, but make sure you discuss these changes with your healthcare provider. Weaning yourself off medications—particularly high-blood pressure, psychiatric, and diabetic drugs—is not a task to tackle without help. Significant lifestyle changes can upset the balance your doctor is trying to maintain with your prescription. Stopping medication suddenly or changing lifestyle without changing dosage may put you at risk, so keep your doctor in the loop.
Dick Benson Editorial Director