The Difference Between Alternative Therapy and Medical Therapy

Have you ever wondered about alternative therapy? What is it? Does it work? If alternative therapy works, why doesn't everyone use it? Is there really a conspiracy by the medical community to hide the effectiveness of alternative therapy so ‘they’ can sell unnecessary and expensive drugs? All of these questions are reasonable and they all have answers. If you are at risk of a stroke, or if you have had a stroke, you need the answers.

What is alternative therapy?

Alternative therapy is any treatment that does not fall into the usual standard therapy of a particular culture or region. In most of the developed world, herbal treatments and ethnic rituals are not the norm and would be viewed as alternative. In many cultures, particularly in the developing world, herbal treatments are the norm, while chemically produced pharmaceuticals would be considered 'alternative.'

What is holistic medicine?

Holistic medicine means that medical treatment is approached in the context of the whole body, rather than just considering one particular illness in isolation. Because most illness can impact several aspects of the body, and most medications have side effects that can affect the rest of the body, medical care has to be holistic in order to be safe and effective. All medical care must use a holistic approach in order to be certifiable as safe and effective, even if it is not formally labeled as ‘holistic medicine.’

Natural Treatments

Natural therapies are approaches to illness that do not use artificiality-produced materials. Natural treatments can include herbs, food, drinks, exercise, massage, heat therapy, mind-body meditation and many more methods.

Evidence Based Medicine

Evidence based medicine refers to the idea that medical treatments should be proven to be effective and should have a well-understood safety record.

Evidence based medicine relies on research studies and long-term reproducible data rather than a ‘gut feeling’ that a medication or a procedure will be safe and effective.

The Overlap Between Alternative Therapy and Science

What is defined as alternative therapy one day may eventually become accepted as evidence- based medicine after a track record of effectiveness and safety is established. One the other hand, some alternative therapies and natural treatments don’t stand the test of science and are eventually proven to be ineffective or even harmful.

Many people would even consider experimental treatment as a type of alternative therapy because experimental treatments use approaches that are not yet well established. Most experimental research on patients is carried out in well-controlled situations to avoid serious problems - so experimental methods of medical treatment are essentially alternative treatments with an evidence-based approach.

The Difference Between Alternative Treatment and Pharmaceuticals

The biggest distinction between natural cures and pharmaceuticals is usually in the power and strength of the treatments.

Pharmaceuticals are made of chemicals that are produced and packaged in a laboratory. They may contain a combination of different active ingredients that are formulated for slow or fast relief of symptoms and short-acting or long-acting effects.

However, herbs, natural plants and even food are all made of chemicals too. But these are naturally occurring chemicals. Their characteristics, doses and chemical concentration are formed in nature, rather than artificially.

Our bodies respond to the chemicals in natural treatments and they also respond to the chemicals in pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals are often more potent and powerful- both when it comes to their beneficial disease fighting effects and when it come to their harmful side effects. The contents of pharmaceuticals can be manipulated to have desired effects while in nature it is more often, ‘you get what you get.’

And sometimes, natural substances are used to help produce medications, which are often a hybrid of plants and chemicals.

Alternative therapy, natural treatments, holistic healing and evidence-based medicine are actually more similar than they are different.

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