Why is Alternative Medicine so Popular?

Alternative medicine has become more and more popular over the last few decades. Why do you suppose that is? What is the attraction of alternative medicine to consumers? Do you suppose it is because they have encountered failure on the part of conventional medicine to heal what ails them?

Is it because alternative medicine methods involve no drugs or surgery and so many people are becoming disillusioned with drugs and the many harmful side effects and they refuse to think that cutting into their body is the only way to feel better? What other reasons are there for the popularity of alternative medicine methods and therapies?

I think one reason is that it is seen as less impersonal than traditional medicine. Visiting your neighborhood homeopathist or acupuncturist is a lot less intimidating than making the rounds at a huge health care center that looks like some kind of corporate think tank. There is also a certain amount of counter-culture cachet to alternative medicine, harking back to the sixties, which may be giving aging baby boomers a certain level of comfort.

More objectively, alternative medicine therapies and treatments basically treat the whole person not just the symptom or problem. Some of the therapies are supported by scientific evidence and have gained the trust of conventional physicians and insurance companies such as chiropractic care.

Individuals, not Cases

The fact that someone is willing to really see everything about you, and to listen to you instead of just seeing a broken bone, or backache can be refreshing because so many patients are treated as if they cease to be a person when they enter the doctor’s office or a hospital and become instead a symptom, problem or illness.

When consumers go to those who practice alternative medicine, they are treated more like a person and not a number, disease or symptom. This makes people feel good about where they are receiving health treatments.

People also seek out alternative medicine when they have already spent a long time and perhaps lots of money seeking help from conventional medicine only to still feels poorly or still have the same ailments. After years of suffering in a conventional medical system that has failed them, they turn to alternative medicine in hopes of being healed through natural philosophies and methods.

Complements Mainstream Medicine

Those who are using conventional medicine to treat chronic or serious illness such as cancer may use alternative medicine in order to deal with side effects of medications or other treatments.

There may be others who decide to use alternative medicine when they are well because they wish to prevent future disease by making sure that they are in harmony with body, mind and spirit, which is what many alternative medicine practices, and therapies are all about.

Another attraction to alternative medicine is that there are so many different practices with the same basic belief that the body can heal itself that they can have many choices to fit the needs of family members such as choosing from biologically based practices that center on diet, nutrition and herbal therapies or the manipulative and body-based therapies such as massage therapy or chiropractor care and also the min-body interventions such as those that deal with the connection between the body, mind and spirit as seen in yoga and biofeedback. There are also the many energy therapies that are a part of alternative medicine such as Qi gong and Reiki.

Image by Stuart Haygarth, Wellcome Images: Creative Commons License.