Kemper, Kathi J. Sunita Vonra. Richard Walls. “The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Pediatrics.” American Academy of Pediatrics. 122. (2008). 1374-1386. Web. 1 Oct. 2014
While modern medicine has successfully healed many people over the past hundred years, there has been a new wave of medicine is spreading across the United States. Usually referred to as holistic or integrative medicine, this new way of healing is called Complementary and Alternative Medicine or “CAM” in short. A concise way of defining CAM is as a group of diverse medical and health practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional western medicine. This practice focuses on patient-centered care that considers biological psychological, spiritual, social and environmental aspects of health. While many reasons for use of alternative medicine exist, the most reported reason for choosing use of CAM is “not so much as a result of being dissatisfied with conventional medicine, but largely because they found these health care alternatives to be more congruent with their own values, beliefs and philosophical orientations towards health and life.” While the use of these alternative medicines has grown dramatically in Western medicine, there are still influential groups of doctors that disagree with this movement. In addition, there is a serious lack of organization and no systematic approach in terms of teaching young, interested doctors what they need to know to carry out these alternative therapies. This lack of expertise in standard, traditional institutions makes it hard to keep up to date on frequently used CAM therapies and also to send new experts into the work force.
The World Health Organization estimates that most of the worlds population regularly uses “traditional” medicine. This includes Chinese medicine (TCM), Ayurvedic medicine and Native American healing practices. What most people don’t realize is that most people in fact do use a form of CAM every day in their lives. Whether it be deep breathing/short meditation, use of essential oils, or paying a massage therapist to work out the kinks in a persons neck, these are all examples of alternative medicine. In a 1998 survey, the most common treatment covered by insurance plans was chiropractic care, with coverage ranging from 41 to 65 percent. Like I previously stated, there are many variations in credentialing which makes it very hard for health insurers to cover. Even with the lack of coverage, the public’s use of CAM therapies is steadily increasing and with that there is also an even greater willingness to pay out of pocket for such therapies.
There are many variations of CAM medicine. The most common being biologically based practices (vitamins, herbs, dietary supplements, diets and foods), manipulative and body based practices (chiropractics, massage therapy and reflexology), mind-body medicine (yoga, meditation and cognitive behavioral therapies), acupuncture and homeopathy. Many adults and children with chronic or incurable illness turn to CAM as a last result. Some examples of diseases associated with CAM medicine are people with asthma, ADHD, autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis and inflammatory bowel disease.
This source opened my eyes to the fact that there isn’t as many people following a holistic lifestyle as it had seemed to me. It’s easy to think that there are many followers of a modern idea when you are in the folds of it yourself, but when I started to research CAM alternatives I started to see that there are still many people wrapped up in the conventional ways of medicine. This source opened my eyes to a larger picture.. A huge problem in using holistic alternatives verses Western medicine is that it is not supported by the government. Insurance coverage is so rare within the realms of holistic medicine. This is one huge reason why ratios of people using CAM are so small- it requires a lot of money to commit to that alternative lifestyle.
This source has me considering changing my research question from “What are the effects of pharmaceutical drugs in comparison to holistic medicine in the United States?” to “Is conventional Western medicine ignoring the other aspects of health (biological, psychological, spiritual, social and environmental) to further their own profits?”
It has me wondering, has the world invested so much in Western medicine because it’s such a romantic thought- the thought that we can fix our physical and emotional issues with a simple pill and glass of water? Somehow that will make everything better, right? Wrong.
These forms of medicine merely fix the symptom. Once the medicine has worn off, the symptoms return along with all of the emotional baggage connected with the physical illness.