Nursing Complementary and Alternative health therapies

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Nursing Assignment Questions

What are the Complementary and Alternative Health Therapies?

Nursing Assignment Solution on Complementary and Alternative health therapies

Complementary and Alternative Health therapies

Complementary and alternative health therapies refer to the variety of healing practices which are increasingly becoming popular, apart from the traditional medicine treatment. According to the ‘National Center for Complementary and Alternative medicine (NCCAM), the use of complementary and alternative treatment like yoga, acupuncture, Physiotherapy, etc. is increasingly becoming popular.

The NCCAM categories these therapies into 5 categories, as described below (nccam.nih, 2012).

·         Mind-Body medicine: In this therapy, the focus is on the mental and emotional status. Example: Yoga and meditation

·         Whole medical systems: This is a complete system of treatment, for almost all kinds of ailments, originated thousands of years ago. Example: Ayurveda from India and Chinese traditional medicine have a whole medical system for treatment.

·         Manipulative-Body based: This kind of treatment focuses on physical manipulation of the human body. Example: Osteopathy and Chiropractic

·         Energy Medicine: These are biofield therapies which impact the energy fields of the body. Example: Reiki

·         Biologically based practices: These are based on dietary supplements, herbs, nutrition. Example: Use of herbal medicines.

As per the words of Richard Dawkins “There is no alternative medicine. There is only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t work”.  (Kara, 2011) But, before drawing any conclusions, let us try to analyze the advantages and disadvantages of Herbal medicines as an alternative and complementary medicine therapy.

There are a number of advantages which Herbal medicines have, in comparison to the traditional medicines. Herbal medicines are derived from plant matter and rarely have any adverse side effects on the body and are known for the long lasting wellness that they create (Jon C Tilburt, 2012). Medicinal plants being a renewable source can ensure a sustainable and cheaper supply of medicines for treatment. The entire process of cultivation and processing of these herbs is environment-friendly (Jon C Tilburt, 2012). Apart from that, Herbal medicines are very cheap as compared to pharmaceutical alternatives. These medicines are easily available without a prescription and most of the herbs can be grown at home (Bent, 2008). The best part of using herbal medicines is its effect on the immune system. These medicines combine with the immune system to create a better detoxification process. They have been found to be very effective in curing digestive disorders like colitis, peptic ulcers, and indigestion (Townley, 2011). They ae the best substitute for people who are allergic to chemical drugs and are searching for safer and reliable sources of treatment. Thus, they have several unique advantages which are the reason for their growing popularity and use among masses.

Herbal medicines are also known to have some disadvantages. The main disadvantage is the amount of time that they take to act is too long. They have not been optimized for quick action and relief, like pharmaceutical drugs and thus take the time to act and implement (Lewis, 2011). They are therefore not considered good for serious illnesses and accidents. In situations like cardiovascular problems or broken limbs, it is not recommended to go for herbal treatment, as traditional medication ensures medical supervision and advanced meditation techniques for quick recovery and wellbeing (Earl, 2004). Also, Herbal medicines are not as strongly regulated as the pharmaceutical medicines, so there is no quality assurance. Most of the time, it requires a very good practitioner for herbal medicines to have the desired effects. Mostly there are no strict prescriptions about the exact dosage and even that varies across persons. Apart from that, herbal medicines are not advised to be taken along with the regular prescription drugs, because they can create adverse effects due to chemical mixes (Lewis, 2011). In some cases, there might be adverse side effects which might take a long time to reveal. Lastly, some plant chemicals are also known to be toxic in nature and have varied effects on different individuals. So, it is very difficult to predict whether an individual’s body is allergic to a specific plant or not (Townley, 2011). In most of the cases, the results are known after quite a delay. Thus, some disadvantages are inherent in Herbal treatment.

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