Think Tank

Alternative Medicine — Risky or Harmless?

Alternative Medicine — Risky or Harmless?

In the fast paced life that we lead these days, it is not uncommon to see at least one member of each household consume a number of pills each day. The advances in modern medicine have allowed humans to live longer and healthier lives than the previous generations.

At the same time, we must remember that modern medicine has evolved from a wide range of traditional healing practices, some of which are still practiced today. We classify many such treatments as being “alternative”. In spite of advances in allopathic medicine, a considerable number of people across the world prefer to use these traditional/alternative methods of healing over modern medicine and many of them are satisfied with the results.

Alternative Medicine — Risky or Harmless?

But are all these methods safe, simply because they have been around for long?

The answer to that question is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Yes, because in many cases these practices have proved beneficial. No, because in quite a few cases they have not been safe and posed other health risks. Though our previous generations survived with these methods, they did not have a long lifespan. This indicates that the old methods do have their limitations. But the same argument can be applied to some modern techniques as well.

To cut short the argument, simply put, each technique of medicine has its own benefits and risks. It is up to the individual and the type and degree of illness to determine which technique to follow. Common alternative methods of medicine include Ayurveda, Acupuncture, Acupressure, Homeopathy and others. Some individuals swear by Ayurveda or Homeopathy, while some cannot think of anything else apart from Allopathy, and some individuals experiment (at their own risk) with different treatments for different illnesses. In certain cases, diseases may be treated by modern medicine, while taking additional support from traditional methods. In such cases, an allopathic doctor might even recommend the use of such methods, though not often.

It is to be noted that every individual’s biological response to treatments using any method is different. So while one method might be readily applicable to a majority of the population, some might even be resistant to certain forms of treatment.

While there is no end in sight to this debate, perhaps there is no single solution available for treating every disease or malady. But here are some points to ponder upon before considering a particular type of medicine –

  • Has anyone else in your family tried it before – Since our family members share the same set of genes and medical history with us, it is always good to check with them if a particular type of medicine suits them or not.
  • Is the doctor a trusted source – When choosing an alternative therapy, be sure to consult a doctor recommended by a trusted source. Consulting a new doctor without any recommendation can be risky.
  • Research online – It is usually believed that while allopathy makes the patient dependent on pills, Ayurveda or homeopathy can completely cure a person, eliminating the need for future medication. This mostly happens in the case of chronic conditions. But, these traditional techniques also take a long time and one needs to be patient. For certain conditions, Allopathy can provide quicker relief. Researching online and reading other patients’ stories or reviews might help.
  • Don’t try them all – Most of us tend to be over-enthusiastic or highly impatient with our diseases and, hence, end up trying all sorts of techniques. Please be careful not to do so! Mixing up various medications can have adverse effects on the body. Try and maintain a gap of at least a few weeks or a month when switching between medications or consult a doctor.
  • Be aware of all the risks – If you’re not satisfied with the results offered by a particular technique of medicine, do talk to your doctor to see if any alternative form of healing might work in your case. But make sure that you learn both sides of the story and are well aware of the risks associated with trying alternative medicine.


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