Astin PhD, John A. “Why Patients Use Alternative Medicine.” The Journal of the American Medical Association. 279. 1998. n. 19. Web. 9 Oct. 2014.
There are countless reasons why people are adverse to alternative medicine, but what factors lead people to try alternative medicine and do they really see results?
One huge reason people throughout the world turn to alternative medicine is due to the connect between the approach of holistic medicine and the persons philosophical outlook on life. Because holistic health means finding health in all aspects, body, mind and spirit, these approaches tend to attract these types of people. These people are often described as “cultural creatives”. Described by Ray (24), these people are commonly always striving for personal growth through self-actualization and self-expression. They tend to believe in the body’s naturally given power to be healthy. While it may seem as if our society has been completely sucked into the lazy Western way of healing, Ray’s studies have shown that these “cultural creatives” and modern thinkers have grown quite a bit since the late 1960s, now being 23.6% of the adult population (44 million Americans). There is hope for an independent American society as the mindset changes from “I won’t ask questions, just fix me.,” when going to physicians to questioning WHY they are sick and thinking, “The health of my body, mind, and spirit are related, and whoever cares for my health should take that into account.”
The next most prevalent reason for people turning away from Western medicine is because they are simply unsatisfied with the results they have gotten. Usually patients must test out many different forms of medication for illness such as anxiety, depression and chronic pain before they find one that ‘solves the problem’ and does not create too many adverse side effects. This process is known to take a long, long time and when the patient has finally found the product that works for them, their body will adapt to it over time making it less and less effective… and the cycle begins again. Patients become frustrated as their bodies are not truly healing, only being masked by temporary relief. Not only have people reported conventional medicine not producing the intended results, they have also reported getting more side effects from the medication then they have healing. Western medicine tends to be for “general symptoms” while an alternative medicine treatment plan can be formulated specifically for a single patient. While Western medication is generally somewhat covered by insurance, the dependency created with using these products takes a financial toll as time passes. Many forms of alternative medicine can be learned and performed by patient on themselves or by a loved one, making it a life-long skill of self treatment.
Here are examples of most frequently used alternative therapies for common health problems Americans face today (From table 3):
ANXIETY- relaxation, herbs, exercise, art therapy.
CHRONIC PAIN- exercise, chiropractic, massage.
CHRONIC FATIGUE- exercise, self-help groups, megavitamins.
DIABETES- exercise, lifestyle diet.
DEPRESSION- relaxation, exercise, herbs.
DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS- lifestyle diet, other, chiropractic, relaxation, herbs.
As you can see, many people successfully heal their emotional and physical health problems through alternative medicine while maintaining their philosophical beliefs and reducing negative experiences impersonal Western medicine doctors and adverse effects of frequently distributed pills and other medications.