Alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. The basic premise behind alternative healthcare is that our bodies use pain as a way to tell us that something is wrong. To dull the pain with medication, as is typically the course in the practice of conventional medicine does not cure the pain. The goal of physicians who practice alternative medicine is to find a cure by looking at the whole person when making a diagnosis, rather than just the symptom. Alternative medicine is based on the idea that the body is healthy and capable of healing itself. Acupuncture is an example of a therapy used in alternative medicine and is discussed in detail below.
Major Areas of Alternative Therapy
Biologically Based Practices
Biologically based alternative therapies involve the use of dietary supplements. In the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, Congress defined a dietary supplement as a product taken by mouth that contains a "dietary ingredient" intended to supplement the diet (NCCAM, 2005).
Some ingredients in dietary supplement products include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs or other botanicals, enzymes, organ tissues, and metabolites. Supplements can come in many different forms including liquid, tablet, capsule, and powder. Typical use of supplements is for the improvement of overall health and well-being, and to support and enhance natural systems in the body such as the immune system, to improve performance, and to treat illness.
Manipulative and Body-Based Practices
Manipulative and body-based practices focus primarily on the structures and systems of the body, including the bones and joints, the soft tissues, and the circulatory and lymphatic systems (NCCAM, 2005). Included in this category of alternative therapy include chiropractic medicine, osteopathic manipulation, massage therapy, reflexology, rolfing, the Alexander technique, the Feldenkrais method, and others. These practices are based on the principal...