Recent reports about the opioid epidemic have gotten people to think twice about prescription medication. The old adage about “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is being taken to a literal extreme. People want alternative forms of medicine that offer the same positives without the negative side effects.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments vary based on the conditions. Negative side effects can still occur if the supplements are taken in large quantities. Mixing CAM remedies can interfere with prescription drugs resulting in strengthened or weakened effects. In essence, taking CAMs is riskier than many medical procedures. Whether committing fully to one or alternating between the two, reliance on CAMs requires a leap of faith.
You don’t have to go very far to find advertisements for CAM treatments. There are thousands of ads on television and the internet for special diets and mystical healing. Very few of these have proven track records of success.
Acupuncture is one method that has been proven to alleviate chronic back and neck pain, nausea, depression, and a host of others. It shares the same areas of success with chiropractic medicine, as well. Herbal medicines isolate curative properties of plant extracts to relieve ailments like insomnia and allergies. However, not all herbal supplements are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Consulting a Doctor
The lack of official documentation for certain natural remedies requires sound advice from medical providers. Physicians today consider an integrative approach to using CAMs. Closer examinations could allow them to correlate their properties with drugs issued by medical transcription services.
As mentioned above, certain supplements can interact negatively with current medications. Ginkgo, for instance, can destabilize the blood-thinner warfarin and increase the chances of bleeding. Any supplements you take should be communicated to your doctor before major surgeries.
Concerns regarding the lack of FDA approval has moved the natural supplement industry to standardize their practices. Low quality supplements are subject to a lack of oversight leading to incorrect dosages, lack of proper ingredients, and other manufacturing errors. Standardization, on the other hand, is itself a mixed bag.
A standardized supplement can be safer to consume thanks to a higher concentration. Highly concentrated supplements can increase in potency, blurring the line between plant extract and drug. Casual use might be a risk, but developing your own regimen is dangerous. This circles back around to consulting your doctor before integrating them with any current medications.
Sniffing Out Scams
Beyond natural supplements, CAM treatments like touch and energy healing sound like miracle cures. Magnetic therapy is one field that has touted successes in mending broken bones. Reiki and other hand applied methods could have their roots in massage therapy.
Many of these treatments associate their qualities to pseudoscience. Practitioners may claim their CAMs will “detoxify” your body, “energize” your body, or your guaranteed your money back. This language is used to cover up their lack of scientific credibility. “If it’s too good to be true, then maybe it is.”
How do you evaluate the effectiveness of alternative medicines?
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