Is alternative medicine real?

Needles, blood tests, waiting rooms and plenty of poking and prodding. Many of us would rather not visit the doctor’s office, unless it’s an absolute last resort… so what if there were other options available? Alternative medicine, also known as CAM (complementary and alternative medicines), isn’t associated with medicine or science in the strictest of terms, but they are widely used by many. But what’s effective and what isn’t?

Ask one of our doctors what alternative medicines can be dangerous. Just log into the app and type your question.

Acupuncture
This form of alternative medicine stems from Chinese medicine. It involves a technique in which thin needles are inserted into your skin to stimulate areas in your body for specific problems, like back pain or headaches. The goal of acupuncture is to restore balance and good health to your body. It’s not medically or scientifically proven, but other research suggests that acupuncture may help chronic problems like headaches, lower back pain and joint pain conditions.

Risks can include:

  • Soreness from the needles.
  • Infections if needles are reused.
  • Organ injury if the needles are pushed too far in.

Magnetic field therapy
Some research suggests that magnets have healing properties, but there isn’t any conclusive evidence that this is true. As the human body and the earth naturally produce magnetic fields, practitioners who offer magnetic field therapy believe that this could help keep your body balanced and healthy.

Risks can include:

  • Disrupting the function of pacemakers.
  • Disrupting the function of defibrillators.
  • Disrupting the function of insulin pumps.
Read  What’s the deal with “alternative medicine”?

Chiropractic medicine
Chiropractic medicine involves adjusting your spine to try and put your body into better alignment and improve your health. The adjustments are usually done to improve pain that affects your back, neck or chest, but some research suggests that it could improve overall health.

Risks can include:

  • A herniated disk (problem with the disks between your bones).
  • Compression of nerves in your lower spinal column.
  • A certain type of stroke (vertebral artery dissection) after neck manipulation.

Reiki
The power touch cannot be denied and this is what Reiki uses. The art of Reiki is to access your body’s natural energy to speed healing or begin the healing process. A practitioner usually hovers his or her hands over your body or places it lightly over your skin.  Reiki is meant to help with feelings of relaxation, happiness and calm.

Possible risks:

  • There are no physical risks involved with Reiki, but some research suggests that you may experience an imbalance with your natural energy, if the therapy is done incorrectly.

Tips

  • It’s important to remember that alternative medicines should be used carefully as they are not medically or scientifically proven to improve your health.
  • Talk to your doctor about any health issues you may have and if you are considering alternative medicine.

References:

http://www.webmd.com/balance/what-is-alternative-medicine?page=2
https://medlineplus.gov/complementaryandintegrativemedicine.html
http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/acupuncture/basics/risks/prc-20020778
http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/tc/magnetic-field-therapy-topic-overview
http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/chiropractic-adjustment/basics/risks/prc-20013239