Alternative Medicine Essay 11

2344 Words Jul 15th, 2002 10 Pages
Alternative Medicine

Throughout recorded history, people of various cultures have relied on what
Western medical practitioners today call alternative medicine. The term alternative medicine covers a broad range of healing philosophies, approaches, and therapies. It generally describes those treatments and health care practices that are outside mainstream Western health care.
People use these treatments and therapies in a variety of ways. Alternative therapies used alone are often referred to as alternative; when used in combination with other alternative therapies, or in addition to conventional therapies they are referred to as complementary. Some therapies are far outside the realm of accepted
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government established the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) within the National Institutes of Health
(NIH). Its mission is to speed the discovery, development, and validation of potential treatments to complement our current healthcare system. One of the
OAM's first tasks was to develop a classification system for the dozens of various therapies and practices. The systems of alternative medical practice the OAM has classified so far share many common therapeutic techniques.
Traditional oriental medicine and naturopathic medicine, for example, both use herbal remedies, acupuncture, and mind/body control. However, some alternative systems, such as environmental medicine and homeopathic medicine are distinct and separate. Following are some the more popular alternative therapies Americans use.


Acupuncture is an example of a therapy once considered bizarre which has some scientific basis. An integral part of Chinese medicine for thousands of years, it is based on the belief that energy, which the Chinese call Qi
(pronounced 'chee'), circulates along meridians in the body in the same way that blood flows (Furman). A diagram of the meridian system looks similar to those of our circulatory and nervous systems (Crute). When the flow of energy becomes blocked, an imbalance is created, resulting in pain or disease. To restore the

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