July 4, 2012
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Many alternative therapies are being used in conventional medicine these days but many people are unaware that they were once considered unconventional. It is interesting to note that many therapies now employed routinely actually have their roots in very ancient medicine and have simply been rediscovered in more recent times. Honey for example is now often used as a wound dressing as it has natural antiseptic properties. Honey found in Egyptian pyramids has been found to still be edible, showing that it suppresses bacterial growth, although it has to be said it was a brave man who ate the first spoonful! Maggots are employed to clean intractable ulcers, having been first used by the Mayans and there is also anecdotal evidence from Australia. They have become more popular in recent years with the advent of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria and are now used fairly routinely.
Alternative therapies which are non-invasive include aromatherapy, which is commonly prescribed for patients undergoing or having recently completed a course of chemotherapy. The oils together with the light massage are particularly beneficial to patients who have had lymph nodes removed from the axilla following a mastectomy or lumpectomy. The reduction in cellulitis that results means a lot more comfort for the patient and a lot less complications following surgery. There is also a lot to be said for the boost in self esteem which results from a very personal one to one massage experience, whether one believes in the actual science of aromatherapy or not. Reiki is another therapy which brings a lot of relief to many and if the improvement in mood is mostly in the mind of the recipient, that is not really an issue. The fact that after Reiki a measurable improvement is often found is enough reason to include it in a regime if the patient enjoys it.
Homeopathy has never really been proven or disproven. The detractors say that it can’t work because the solutions used are so dilute that there in not a single molecule of the active ingredient in even a large quantity of the tincture. This being so a rational person might well say that it cannot work as a treatment, but it has been shown to work on animals and also against a placebo on trials, so it is hard to say quite what its active ingredient is. Most doctors would agree that if the patient finds that a homeopathic substance works there is absolutely no reason for them not to take it; after all, if there is not even a molecule of active substance in the dose, it can hardly do any harm. The problem arises if the patient decides not to take a prescribed drug with known efficacy because they are taking a homeopathic remedy. In this case, the medical practitioner must ensure that the patient is made aware that homeopathy should be used as an adjunct to more conventional medical care, not as a replacement. In general, alternative and conventional medicine can work hand in hand, as long as a medical practitioner is involved in the treatment at all times.