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10 myths about alternative medicine

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

1. Natural always means safer or better

Many people believe that "natural" medicine is safer than "unnatural" or synthetic medicine. It's a common belief that nature is pure and inherently better than man made.

Nature definitely has a role in the healing process. The use of plants has a long history in treatments for sickness and disease in all cultures and has played an important role in improving health. With this being said, all plants are not healing plants and it is just as important to always refer to a person of knowledge when using natural remedies. They too can be toxic and have side effects and contraindicators when not used properly. Many people take natural medicines incorrectly or inconsistently. Always do your homework when using 'natural' medicines and consulting with a trusted, knowledgeable healer is always a good idea.

2. Alternative Medicine takes longer to work

It doesn't matter whether conventional or alternative, the condition and the severity of the condition will determine how quickly the medicine works. Yes, sometimes alternative medicines take a bit longer to work. Many conventional medicines do not work right away either. The methodology, ideology, and philosophy of alternative medicine is very different from conventional medicine and therefore the amount of time of healing can be different.

3. Alternative treatments do not need a doctor

You should never take any type of medication, alternative or not, without consulting a physician or someone trained in whatever method of alternative medicine one is seeking. You should never take anything a professional has not recommended. Especially for life threatening sickness or diseases. Even with alternative medicine, sometimes you have contraindicators or when taking other medications, one must make sure they don't cause negative effects when taken together. This can be deadly and is not safe. Again, just because it's natural doesn't mean it is always good for you.

Even with supplements, it is best to be tested to see if your body is lacking that supplement. Too much of a good thing can also be bad. Too much of certain vitamins and minerals can be toxic and have adverse effects. It is important not to fall for all of the advertisements that tell you everyone should be taking their supplement. Not true. What's good for one person is not good for all people. The supplement business is a billion dollar business. Be aware! Speak with a professional and see what they recommend when dealing with health issues. I recommend seeing a doctor that specializes in alternative medicine. It is becoming easier to find holistic practitioners, doctors, and functional medicine doctors . If you need a referral, email us at and we'll help you find a practitioner.

4. Alternative medicine is 'exotic'

Alternative medicine practitioners are not 'exotic'. Many healers are the same as your trainer or family doctor. They just specialize in different practices. Sometimes when people hear the term alternative medicine, they think of foreign ingredients. Many herbal remedies are commonly found in the average kitchen. Alternative practitioners are often considered unapproachable or unappealing or they think of a hippy spaced out on 'hallucinogens'. This is simply not true. Alternative medicine focuses on the body and energy as a whole system, which can include acupuncture, massage, herbal medicines, lifestyle changes, exercise, meditation and diet.

5. Always tastes bad or is painful

Do you remember taking medicine as a child? Did it taste good? Have you ever dislocated or broken a bone? Did it feel good resetting it? Were you sore? It's no different with alternative treatments. Are they sometimes uncomfortable? Yes, they can be but so is physical therapy after an injury or a cut or a burn. No difference. As far as taste, I think alternative medicines taste much better. If they taste that bad, you can usually add honey. For myself, nothing tastes worse than prescription cough syrup. I'd rather bad taste than putting dyes, harsh chemicals, and/or preservatives into my body which can cause adverse reactions.

6. There is no research supporting

There is much research supporting the use of alternative medicine practices. TCM has been practiced for nearly 3000 years and ayurvedic medicine for nearly 5000 years. Native Americans also have a history of over a thousand years of plant knowledge when it comes to healing. I would say that all of these cultures have stood the test of time when it comes to healing the body of any condition, being mind or body.

I was once told that western medicine is good for when one is dying (emergencies) and alternative medicine is best when used for prevention, longevity, and an overall good quality of life.

Doctors which practice alternative methods go through rigorous, time consuming training to earn that title. Some attend school for up to nine years, depending on the study and specialties. They must complete an accredited medical program and are responsible for continuing education as well as current state licensing. For example,

Chinese medicine has been practiced for over 3000 years and has undergone rigorous research and testing. Acupuncture and herbal medicine are some of the most heavily researched practices.

Ayurvedic medicine is based on a 5000-year-old science. It has paved the way for several other sciences such as detoxing and gut health. Intermittent fasting is an age-old ayurvedic concept of taking care of gut health and detoxing the body. Therefore placing Ayurveda as one of the key branches of science.

The Native American knowledge of plants has aided in the pharmaceutical industry. Most medications start with a plant. Due to science, there are many other things added to the basic plant, but the basic make-up usually starts with a plant. The Native American herbalists/healers knew the role that nature plays in healing.

Every culture has its healers. They may not be school educated doctors, but that does not mean that they do not heal. Herbalists, reiki masters, qigong masters, sound healing, light healing, meditation, chanting, and the list goes on. They all heal. It is a choice. All methods are not for everyone. You choose and your body will let you know which method is best.

Training not only comes from school but from experience.

7. Alternative medicine is expensive

Alternative medicine is generally not covered by insurance. Some insurances now include a few acupuncture sessions and maybe some massage. It really depends on the insurance. When compared to regular doctor visits and pharmacy costs, I'd say that alternative medicine is much less than western medicine (US). It would be very difficult for the average person to pay for a basic doctors visit here in the US. Alternative medicine seems to be more expensive because one is paying for the whole amount of the care and not just a co-pay. I have found that alternative medicine as well as treatments tend to be much less than the usual practitioner. When looked at from another perspective, I feel that alternative medicine is more affordable. Especially since most visits are not covered by insurance. Many practitioners will work with you on pricing. I've even seen some waive there fees if they see that a client is in need or is suffering from a hardship. Not many doctors will do this.

Many health insurance companies now include acupuncture on their plans, especially when it is the primary treatment option for an issue. As part of the Affordable Care Act, acupuncturists and practitioners of Oriental medicine can now be considered primary care providers.

8. Alternative medicine is unregulated

Most forms of alternative medicine are not regulated. Alternative medicine is a choice and should not be taken lightly. When deciding to use this method, it is best to do your research and make sure that the person recommending the medicine is qualified to do so.

I highly recommend always choosing a person who is recommended by someone trusted. Remember, 'natural' is not always 'natural'. The 'natural medicine' industry makes a lot of money. Unfortunately, many are capitalizing on the ignorance of the public. Pharmaceutical medicine is actually not much better and it is regulated.

Do your research and when deciding to use the alternative medicine method, always try to consult with referrals first. Always read the reviews of the practitioners if possible and always rely on your gut. If it doesn't feel right, more than likely it is not. Do not be afraid to ask questions.

Chinese medicine is regulated by a number of organizations and practitioners must complete education requirements, pass certification exams, acquire state acupuncture licensure and complete regular training and continuing education requirements.

Functional Medicine Doctors, Naturopathic Doctors, Homeopathic doctors, and

Chiropractors are all doctors and have to complete education requirements and pass certification exams.

There are many types of healers. Cultural healers can be just as effective although they have not completed many hours of schooling. They have stood the test of time. Every culture has healers or medicine people. They have been taught by the generations before them.

9. Is not as effective as prescription meds

Again, there is a huge difference in philosophy. Western medicine and pharmaceuticals focus on treating diseases by the symptoms. Treatments are often a pill that is supposed to work for everyone who has the disease, despite the fact that all bodies react to medicine differently. Alternative medicine treatments focus on the whole person as an individual. Practitioners consider symptoms but focus more on what the symptom is telling about the body and the cause of imbalance within the body. This information is used to prescribe a treatment specific to an individual and the individuals body.

There are no instant results for any ailments be it mild or severe. For every cure, certain prevention methods should be followed to ensure the best results as they enable the medication, be it western or alternative, to work faster and effectively.

10. Alternative medicine is outdated

On the contrary. Currently billions of dollars are spent on alternative medicine. We can attribute this to a number of factors:

  • Increased access to information via the internet.

  • increased contact with other cultures that traditionally use alternative medicine.

  • renewed interest in formerly countercultural ideologies, such as environmentalism.

  • the perception that alternative medicine is easier to understand, safer, and less expensive than conventional medications.

  • distrust of and frustration with the health care system.

  • a growing recognition that many factors contribute to health and well-being.

  • Media attention on the adverse effects and escalating costs of conventional medicines have also caused people to look for alternatives for preventing and managing illness

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