Alternative medicine has been around for centuries, although it has just started to become very popular in countries such as The United States. Many people now are following the trend without knowing anything about alternative medicine. People should be aware of the benefits as well as the precautions involved in taking these natural remedies. The most common form of alternative medicine nowadays is herbal medicines. These natural remedies can be found in millions of American homes today. Herbal medicine is probably the most widely used of the alternative medicines. Herbal medicine is a part of homeopathy, which is an alternative system of healing that uses very small doses of substances to relieve specific symptoms (2). Traditional herbalists tend to use combinations of small amounts of herbs to meet the needs of the patient. Natural medicines are a part of our world. There are natural remedies to many everyday illnesses. Natural medicines have been used through out the history of the world. There are records of the Egyptians using them in 1,600 BC. There are scriptures that date back to the Yin dynasty in 1,500 BC. The Old Testament also has many references to herbal medicines. The ancient Chinese were experts at natural medicine. They were experts on using plants, animals and minerals to heal themselves(7). The Chinese's natural medication didn't start diffusing over to Europe until the 2nd century, but there were many similarities in the Chinese's and the Egyptian's natural medicines (7). There are several benefits to in using alternative medicines. First, alternative medicine does not separate symptoms of a physical nature from those of a mental-emotional nature (6). This theory from ancient China expects specific mental/emotional conditions to go along with certain disease patterns, and expects these emotional symptoms to respond to treatment as well as any physical symptoms(6). Also, in alternative medicine each and every sign and symptom is understood and interpreted in relationship to all the others. While a medical doctor might choose to send a patient with a variety of symptoms to two or three specialists, a good practitioner of traditional alternative medicine sees and understands all the symptoms together as a single pattern. Any treatment prescribed is designed to work effectively with the entire pattern and all its symptoms. Done skillfully, alternative medicine does not separate a person treating one symptom or part at the expense of another. It is designed to treat the person, not just the disease.
Alternative medicine emphasizes the individual person. "Because of it holistic view of the body/mind, it is more specific for each patient's needs than is Western medicine"(9). For example, five women may come into a clinic with the same problem, but each of the problems is accompanied by a variety of different signs and symptoms, no two of which are exactly alike. Instead of each woman getting the same treatment, each of these five women will receive an individually tailored treatment plan with different herbs, different acupuncture therapy, and different lifestyle suggestions (9). Alternative medicine has no side effects. "Because treatment is so specifically tailored to each person, if the diagnosis has been correct, the treatments prescribed by Alternative medicine should have no side effects"(9). Any mild side effects that may arise in the initial stages of herbal treatment can be corrected by adjustments to the herbal formula. Most drugs prescribed by doctors have at least some expected and normal side effects and many have potentially serious, irreversible ones. Alternative medicine has a strong emphasis on prevention. In Western medicine, diagnosis can only be made and treatment given if there are measurable material or tissue changes that show up in pictures or in blood or fluid tests(5). If a person complains of symptoms which cannot be measured by these tests, Western doctors usually just say...
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