Alternative medicine and its growing use – such as acupuncture and herbal remedies – have become more and more widespread across the United States, but it should only ever be used as an additional therapy rather than taking their place as treatment options. Although some alternative therapies claim they’re safer, there have been cases of serious adverse reactions and even fatalities linked to alternative therapies.
Eisenberg and colleagues1 conducted a national survey which revealed that 34% of adult Americans utilized at least one unconventional form of health care during the previous year (defined as practices that were “not widely taught or available through U.S. hospitals”) such as relaxation techniques, chiropractic or massage; most commonly employed alternatives included relaxation techniques, chiropractic treatment and massage therapy – most likely used by educated middle class white persons but certainly not limited to any particular demographic group or subpopulation segment of population.
Survey results also show that nontraditional approaches are typically utilized alongside, rather than as alternatives to, conventional medical treatment. While acupuncture and herbal remedies have caused some adverse side effects for some individuals, most reported issues related to them weren’t severe or life threatening.
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine in which needles are strategically inserted at specific points on the body to alleviate pain and promote physical and emotional well-being. While complications have been reported from time to time, most were caused by unknowingly contaminated needles containing undeclared plant or animal material; blood thinners or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents; heavy metals; pesticides; or substances like glass or plastic being present on them.
Herbal remedies are natural medicines derived from plants grown and collected directly, then dried and powdered before being administered for treating illness. Herbs come in various forms such as capsules or tea; long-term safety has yet to be assessed with herbal products.
Alternative therapies that may also prove helpful include reflexology, acupressure and homeopathy. Acupressure involves applying pressure to specific points on the body in an attempt to balance energy flow; homeopathy uses small doses of minerals or plant substances given orally in order to treat illness.
Overall, this survey’s results demonstrate that individuals who utilize alternative medicine tend to be better educated than those who don’t and possess some form of spiritual or philosophical orientation toward health that could be described as holistic. They’re more likely to belong to value subcultures associated with cultural creatives; and have had transformative experiences which altered their worldview significantly – these individuals tend to be more open to trying alternative therapies without consulting with a doctor beforehand.