Why Do People Turn to Alternative Medicine?
A few decades ago, many people thought alternative medicine was the sole preserve of tribal shamans and witch doctors. It was restricted only to a supposedly ‘uneducated’ minority who couldn’t afford western medicines and was labeled unconventional and unattractive. Others were also limited to strange health symptoms. However, the tide has shifted tremendously today as a 2020 Federal government survey revealed that more than 36% of Americans use some form of alternative medicine. The question now is why are more people seeing the need to use alternative medicine? Some of these reasons are discussed below.
- They tend to be safer and less expensive
A Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) report discovered that about six million Americans treated for chronic pain and depression episodes began to move away from conventional options to alternative medicines. According to this report, the primary reason for this move was the cost factor. Many people admitted that western medications used to treat their conditions became too pricey, hence looking for more natural and least costly alternatives.
Moreover, the American healthcare system continues to get even more cumbersome and is considered one of the most expensive worldwide. The costs associated with the US health system continually outpaces the average income growth. In 2020, the average American income growth was pegged at 3.3%. However, the health system tracker says, spending on healthcare increased 31-fold! It, therefore, makes sense that people will seek less invasive options that cost less to treat medical conditions.
- Patient dissatisfaction
For years, people treating specific health conditions realized that conventional medicines only treated symptoms of their ailment. Whereas herbal-based and alternative medication tends to treat the root of the problem, some people believe western options may lack that ability. One school of thought opines that alternative medicine results aren’t proven while evidence-based data back conventional medicine. Another group also acknowledges that Western options tend to carry the day because alternative medicine lacks widespread scientific backing.
That notwithstanding, more people are beginning to realize that these ‘unconventional’ options provide more satisfaction. Moreover, most people who have tried both options believe that there are more side effects from conventional medicines than alternative ones. This is mainly because alternative therapies have gained popularity due to their ability to stimulate the body’s natural healing responses. Write-ups on topics such as the 10 best herbs for good health to support your well-being lay fact to this claim.
- A need for personal control
It’s pretty surprising to realize how patients would go to extra lengths to control their treatment options. Therefore, instead of generalized medical measures, most patients prefer to have a say in their use. More specifically, the urge to have personal autonomy over their treatment decisions drives them. In a JAMA Network medical journal, researchers discovered that patients regarded western medicine as too authoritarian. On the other hand, alternative options are viewed as more flexible, tolerant on the body, and offer end-users more control.
Furthermore, after years of usage, western medicine users see conventional treatment as overly technology-oriented. This development fuels the belief that the humane factor is the least on the list of benefits. On the other hand, alternative medicine factors in the human element make a user feel connected to the natural product.
For example, some herbal products are better taken in the morning to avoid interference with the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Others are consumed only in the evenings to boost a calming effect at night to aid sleep. These dynamics convince patients of alternative medicines’ humane approach to treatment.
- Embracing nature and philosophical beliefs
As the world seeks more sustainable means to save the environment, more people are also translating this into their healthcare. As being eco-friendly is beneficial to the environment, why not do the same for the body by embracing nature? Taking more environmentally friendly decisions has led more people to shift to alternative treatment options. More people believe natural treatments are compatible with spirituality, personal values, and individual religious dogmas regarding philosophical beliefs.
In healthcare, this is known as philosophical congruence, which dwells on the concept of using oneself for practice. In other words, it’s the acceptance to use one’s own body as the trial ground for testing natural treatment options as far as individual beliefs allow.
In conclusion, although there’s a shift towards alternative medicine, always be mindful not to mix them with other treatment options without expert advice. Some drugs and therapies counteract and can be harmful to your well-being.