34$ Billion dollars a year! That is what Americans spend every year on alternative therapies and that too out of pocket
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine classifies Alternative therapies into five categories -
1. Alternative Medical Systems
Alternative medical systems are built upon systems of theory and practice. Often, these systems have evolved apart from and earlier than the conventional medical approach used in the United States. Examples of alternative medical systems in Western cultures include homeopathic medicine and naturopathic medicine. Â Systems that have developed in non-Western cultures include traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.
2. Mind-Body Interventions
Mind-body medicineÂ uses a variety of techniques designed to augment the mind's capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms. Some techniques that were considered complementary and alterative medicine (CAM) in the past have become mainstream (for example, patient support groups and cognitive-behavioral therapy). Other mind-body techniques continue to be considered CAM, including meditation, prayer, mental healing, and therapies that use creative outlets such as art, music, or dance.
3. Biologically Based Therapies
Biologically based therapiesÂ in CAM use substances found in nature, such as herbs, foods, and vitamins. Some examples include dietary supplements, herbal products, and the use of other so-called natural but as yet scientifically unproven therapies.
4. Manipulative and Body-Based Methods
Manipulative and body-based methodsÂ in CAM are based on manipulation and/or movement of one or more parts of the body such as chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, and massage.
5. Energy Therapies
Energy therapiesÂ involve the use of energy fields. They are of two types:
Biofield therapies are intended to affect energy fields that ostensibly surround and penetrate the human body. Certain forms of energy therapy manipulate biofields by applying pressure and/or manipulating the body by placing the hands in, or through, these fields. Examples include Qi gong, Reiki, and Therapeutic Touch.
Bioelectromagnetic-based therapies involve the unconventional use of electromagnetic fields, such as pulsed fields, magnetic fields, or alternating-current or direct-current fields.
Alternative therapies presently account for roughly 11 percent of the total spent out-of-pocket on all health care, according to a survey of 23,000 Americans, from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.
Most of these expenses -- an average of $122 per person in 2007 -- go towards "self care," or treatments such as homeopathic medications and fish-oil capsules that people buy without a health practitioner's counsel, the study found.
Both Chinese and American Indian medical practices depend on many medicines, including plant medicines. The doctors who use these plants need training in how to identify the plants, prepare the medicines and use the medicines suitably. Chinese and American Indian remedies can also depend on healing touch that is used to ease pain and cure diseases. Both approaches to medicine are very practical, depend on the plants that are at hand and share some of the same elements of philosophy.
Ayurveda, recognized as new age medicine now originated in the Vedic tradition of India. A traditional holistic health care system, ayurveda has been practiced in India for more than 5000 years. Based on the principle of eternal life, this ancient Indian science of healing seeks to re-establish the harmony between the body and the environment.
It is essential for researchers to conduct scientific studies of alternative therapies and establish their safety and effectiveness. It is important to increase the awareness of the American public.