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Why do people chose to use alternative medicine?

I’m studying alternative medicine for sociology at school and was wondering why people chose to use alternative medicine when modern medicine is available. Even people with cancer, chose to use alternative therapy instead of rely in doctors. I am just very unsure why. Thanks everyone!
By the way, I’m not here to bag on you or tell you that what you believe is wrong. I’m just looking to find someone with first hand experience on the matter.
People have said that they use them, but have they actually worked for you? Thanks for all of your replies.

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20 Responses to “Why do people chose to use alternative medicine?”

  1. beetlebug30 said :

    It’s healthier without the bad chemicals and the bad side effects that come with it

  2. stephandabbey said :

    i think there are a few answers. firstly, alternative treatments do tend be natural i.e. grown which makes them appear healthier. secondly, how many stories appear in the media regarding the unwanted effects of medical drugs? lots. this builds panic. thirdly, cultures play a vital role and in todays society we are continually exposed to cultures we may not have been years ago. next, availability of these medicines especially with the intenet means we can research and buy them more easily. next, years ag people tended to live in small towns where everybody knew everybody else. the local doctor would probably be a freind therefore trust was given automatically, nowadays that is not the case, here in the uk the chances of seeing the same GP twice in a row is unlikely (although that is just my opinion of my doctors surgery and i cannot make a comparrison). finally, the placebo effect could be resulting in unfounded claims of alternative treatments being as effective as medical science.
    the combination of all these factors has an impact on a person decisions
    hope this helps x

  3. Slider V said :

    I am not an advocate for alternative medicine. Other than benefitting from a placebo effect, much of the non-medicinal “remedies” touted these days are old wives tales and quackery. People who opt for instance, to meditate and drink seaweed shakes versus being treated with chemotherapy for cancer are either extremely fearful of chemotherapy side effects, being duped by a scammer who is taking their money by preying on those fears, being misguided by wishful thinking, or all of the above. Traditional medicine, (with the clinical studies to back it up) cannot be rivaled by vitamin C tablets and wishful thinking. Sadly, many people lose their life savings and their very lives discovering this fact.

  4. SkepDoc 2.0 said :

    Well, it certainly is popular. Lots of people use it as an adjunct to science based medicine. Relatively few people use it exclusively. I am not aware of any people who seek out AltMed when they have an actual medical emergency. It tends to be used for ill defined chronic conditions that tend to have symptoms that wax and wane.

    Part of it is a backlash against science. People tend to look at sciences’ failures (thalidomide, Vioxx) and generalize that “all science” is bad….conveniently forgetting the huge gains in health in the last century as a result of a scientific approach. (cures for polio, many cancers, treatment of diabetes etc etc) The current generation has no idea how lucky they are to be alive in an era of science based medicine.

    It really took an upswing in popularity in the post-hippy era of the 60’s and 70’s, and that was where a lot of todays’ New Age notions were born (crystal healing, therapeutic touch etc)
    The 60’s generation tended to reject everything of the “establishment”, and that seemed to have included a rational approach to health. There was more of an interest in Eastern mysticism, people took up transcendental meditation, took an interest in acupuncture etc.

    It has been very heavily promoted by unscrupulous practitioners who discovered there was a lot of money to be made when you could sell “wellness” without the pesky regulations, or requirements of efficacy or safety that doctors and pharmaceutical companies have to abide by.

    It has gotten much worse in the internet age, when any idiot can set up a webpage offering dubious health and wellness advice. People think they can diagnose and treat themselves by looking up their symptoms on a checklist. It is just as bad here in Canada where everyone has access to healthcare as in the US where 40 million people don’t.

    Science is poorly taught in schools and poorly understood by most people. I think proper science education would go a long way towards diminishing peoples misguided attachment to SCAM.

    “There is no such thing as alternative medicine. There is only scientifically proven, evidence based medicine supported by solid data, or unproven medicine for which scientific evidence is lacking”
    (Journal of the American Medical Association 1998)

    In spite of SCAM generally poor attempts to actually do science in the last couple of decades, there has yet to be a large, well designed study that conclusively shows any form or SCAM to be superior to that of a placebo. There happens to be well understood, biochemical, physiological and psychological mechanisms of the placebo effect. So by Occam’s razor, or the principle of parsimony, all SCAM effects are likely as a result of activating placebo mechanisms.

  5. notalonewithcancer said :

    Modern meds have mostly been derived from ‘alternative meds’. Aspirin comes from the willow tree bark, at one time antibiotics were made from living organisms. Even the chemo I was on was derived from the Yew tree.

    I trust in both fields, and I use both to their full advantages. I used modern meds to fight my cancer, it did me no good. Not saying it isn’t beneficial…. just didn’t work on me. Using supplements and good diet has been working better for me. My cancer is still in me, but I’ve kept it more stable than when I was on chemo. It takes a lot of research to find out what is best for each individual.. its called buyer beware and not to fall for the products that are claiming to give you a quick fix. Slow and steady wins most battles.

  6. Shortcircut said :

    Well to answer this i think you have to understand that peple are sick and tired of being sick and tired with all the modern drugs in this world that are far to easily perscribed and at the coast of the persons health .I have been to allopathic doctors who had me on all sorts of medicine and when one medicine would cause a reaction or side affect it was ok because the docotor was their to write another script for the 1st medicine that was to take care of the original problem so i decided that their has to be a better way!(P.S i grew up in a doctor nurse setting and know all about the medical field.) So i took a class in alternative healing and know now that alternative therapies when used correctly does not mask your symptom but actually heals the symptom and for those who say it is quackery and they are just preying on deseperate people to get their money well i say not so!They are just simply trying to help people heal themselfs with an alternative way to traditional medicine. Also i think it is very interesting if you do a study on modern medicines and you will see that a lot of the medicines take the chemical structure of an alternative and sythenically reproduce what was natural and this is where the side effects come from> Keep in mind this is only my opion but i think a lot of people don’t understand alternative therapies and their for think is it quakery! Hope this helps and good luck

  7. Larry O said :

    Main stream health care is run by the billion dollar drug companies. They pay for 90% of medical schools. therefore set the agenda as to what is taught. Take a red pill for this… A blue pill for that. Not cureing anything but keep you buying more pills so they get richer.
    Example, Antibiotics, have indirectly killed many thousands in this country. The Doctors give Antibiotics for every thing. They do not work on many things like Virous or Fungus infections. They destroy all bacteria in GI tract causing more illness a year or two later so they can sell more pills and make more money. Doctors mean welll they just haven’t been traind properly.
    Yes there is a lot of snake oil in alternative medicine. But there is a lot of good that does actually heal people. For a lot less cost and much less side efects.
    Look at the finance burdens put on the elderly to buy their med.s While the drug companies are making $Billions.
    If they wanted they could sell their pills for a lot less ahd help the elderly but no they are just interested in the money.
    Natural medicine is God’s medicine that has been used for thousands of years and successfuly.
    There are many cures that the drug companys don’t want people to know about so they can get richer. Think about it .

  8. rockdoc said :

    Because regular medicine in most cases works so poorly, has bad side effects and often doesn’t do what it claims to do.
    They are just trying to make money, and if it turns out a drug doesn’t work for something they will repackage it and try to sell it as something else (happens all the time!)
    The public needs to be very aware that the purpose of these companies is to make money, not guarantee the public health.

  9. Heleyna said :

    b/c humans are designed to live in harmony with nature and ourselves and modern medical science rarely does this, it makes our bodies go ot of whack and just causes more problems in other areas.

  10. Lisa J said :

    First hand experience.

    People choose alternative health methods because they discover that they work – and work fast! Some of the reasons why alternative therapists get results:

    1) Alternative health methods (AHM) treat the whole person, not just an organ or – worse! – a disease!

    2) A few AHM (very few, and they are to be treasured! f. ex. kinesiology and Neuro-Training) go back to the cause of the problem and work there. Otherwise, it’s like removing the smoke (symptoms) and ignoring the fire which continues to burn (like taking an aspirin for a bad tooth – or for a headache for that matter).

    3) People chose AHM because they feel that western medicine (which is not to be called traditional medicine!(1) does little or not enough for them. Reasons:
    – No-one likes to be told that there is little that can be done.
    – No-one likes to be thrown out of the surgery after 10 minutes because the doctor doesn’t have more time for you.
    – No-one likes to sit there while the doctor looks at his PC screen and types away without even paying attention to his/her patient.
    – No-one likes to be treated like an organ, a piece of flesh, a body part, or worse: like a disease.
    – No-one likes to be given medicine without even an short explanation about how it works, what the possible side-effect are, and – worse! – without asking if you are already taking something prescribed by another doctor, and which might interact negatively with the new one.

    4) People are beginning to realize that doctors don’t know that much about people and are not interested in finding out.
    – They know all about diseases, and nothing about people and their own healing powers.
    – They know a lot about pharmaceutical products, but little about the people they prescribe them to.
    – They are interested in making symptoms disappear.
    – They don’t listen. They don’t have time to be interested in people.

    5) AHM practitioners are gardeners who do a lot of preventive work (and should be consulted as such as well) and keep the garden well tended and all the plants (organs) healthy.
    Medical doctors are mechanics who HAVE to wait until something goes wrong with you in order to help you. A medical doctor would laugh in your face if you went there and said: “I am in perfect health. Help me to stay that way”.
    They have no means to help you stay that way except advise you to eat healthy food and exercise. That’s not enough. AHM have ways of finding out if an organ or a gland or something is getting weaker, and help it heal before symptoms appear.

    6) There are less side-effects from AHM.

    7) The placebo effect which is often used as an deterrent against AHM by the medical profession is rubbish. There is no placebo effect where babies and animals are concerned and AHM are just as effective on babies and animals. Don’t doctors know that? Well, they know so little!
    And my question is: if the placebo effect is so … effective, why don’t doctors use it more? Because according to them it only happens with AHM. What rubbish!

    The list could go on.

    Hope this helps! Good luck with your research.

    (1) The term “Traditional medicine” should be reserved for Chinese traditional medicine. There is nothing traditional about western medicine.

  11. pelops_dl said :

    Cancer treatment is terrifying. It makes you feel really awful and it isn’t even guaranteed to cure you! When faced with this any sane person might think to themselves, “No way! That’s really scary! I dont’ feel bad right now!” Then most realize there is no choice. Their best chance is with chemo and radiation therapies and while it may be rought it is still their best bet at not dying. Add to this the fact that cancer isn’t always a death sentence if you use those therapies! Breast cancer survival rates are very high now. This is wonderful! So most people choose to take the rough therapies. They’re brave for doing so, but they do have a choice.

    Alterative therapies (from homeopathy to mystical mineral energies to herbs to faith healing) promise a sure fire cure that has no side effects. This is very, very tempting.

    When faced with this choice some will go the easy route. Unfortunately this doesn’t work and more often than not involves paying more out of pocket than paying out of pocket proven cancer treatments. I’ll link to a site that document such cases below.

    So basically it’s just a promise of an easy way out. No one wants the nausea and pain and dizziness associate with cancer treatments.

    No one on this site can show proven treatments for cancer. No one. There are no studies that prove efficacy. At best there are some studies that show an herbal chemical having an effect on tumor cell replication (and this should be pursued! could lead to a cancer treatment!), but the herb in itself isn’t effective in vivo (in a living organism as opposed to cells in a petri dish, in vitro.

    (arrgh, I saw the post above and I wish this were a forum! The sites below dismantle EVERY claim made above, though)

  12. sapphire_630 said :

    Have you ever read all the studies, side effects and class action law suits on celebrex, vioxx and many of the pharmaceutical drugs?
    Have you ever seen a person die from their chemo/radiation therapies?
    Doctors only go by the lies the drug companies tell them about a drug. The deaths by these drugs are covered up until they can no longer be denied.

  13. newwellness said :

    Modern Medicine comes with a price, you get one drug and it has side-effects that can’t be elimanated, Modern Medicine covers the symptoms, where Alternative Medicine actually attacks the problem. I have studied Homeopathic Medicians for about 20 years both herbal and Earth energies. I prefer to receive the benefit that A. M. provides without poisoning myself.

  14. Momof3 said :

    Here is why I began using alternative medicine. I began using alternative medicine after the “modern” medicine I was taking for RLS caused me to begin to have seizures. They were frequent and unpredictable. No other treatments for RLS were available to me and I needed something to help. I tried Natures Inventory thinking that if it didn’t work I could get my money back.

    I now wonder why we put so much into our bodies and then complain because we don’t feel good. I did use my doctor and it was with his blessings that we tried this. Some doctors are willing to try it when they themselves have no answers. By spending just a small amount of money I saved myself many appts and possibly a hospital stay. That time can now be used by someone else who may be helped by modern medicine.

    And just as FYI I have been seizure free for 6 months, which may not seem like a long time but for me and my family, it is a blessing. Alternative medicine gave me back a normal life when modern medicine was taking it away.

    My husband and I now try to use alternative medicine if possible but we know that sometimes “modern” medicine is also an option. We are just more cautious now.

  15. bingz said :

    I’ve done alternative medicine in the form of energy healing, like reiki, quantum-touch, and pranic healing.

    Energy healing works based on the principle that we have our own body intelligence,and when more energy is directed to it, our body intelligence increases and we heal at an accelerated rate. The healing happens on a priority basis, parts that need healing most get healed first, followed by 2nd priority and so on. There’s no chance of a wrong diagnosis in the first place as compared to using modern medicine.

    2ndly, energy healing is relatively pain-free- you might get worse pain than before in a healing crisis, but if you just hold on a while longer, sometimes the pain just disappears totally. A huge bonus, i must say.

    For me, I’d choose to use energy healing as complementary healing instead of alternative therapy. Modern medicine still has to come in at some point, and I’ll want to have proper medical diagnosis from a professional doctor as a checkpoint to see how I’m doing. I might delay surgeries and try out pure energy healing first, but will only do so after seeking advice from my doc.

  16. Travis F. said :

    I too agree that “Alternative Medicine” is definately the way to go. I have a skin condition similar to Ezcema. I have been to many doctors over the years and all prescribed me the same thing. Even when I told them it didnt work, they said try again. I said NO. I later tried a product called Skin Soothe by Nature’s Inventory. It worked in two weeks!! And it’s ALL NATURAL!!

  17. ...andcounting said :

    Personally, I prefer alternative medicines because they have been around for centuries. We hear all to often about new wonder drugs that are recalled a few years later because of unforseen side effects. I’m not against modern medicine, but I feel that it quite often only masks the symptoms, it doesn’t treat the cause. It may take some research and effort but natural medicines often focus on the cause.

  18. jack c said :

    the doc’s at the pain clinic had me strung out, didn’t know if i was coming or going,my family says it was bad, don’t know,my brother heard about the wonders an went got me some,they took away the meds. gave me maryjane 6 yrs. later i know what happen yesterday, last week, last month got a new doc. too, he tells me it saved my life.i still hurt an everything but i am here an able to fuction not a zombie. yes,i think it’s better.

  19. Susan Lynn Peterson said :

    There are things Chinese Medicine (herbs and acupuncture) treats better than Western medicine: acne, depression and anxiety, fibromyalgia, hot flashes. Add to that the fact that Chinese herbs are gentler than highly distilled western pharmaceuticals and have fewer side effects, and one might ask why anyone would use conventional medicine.

    Even Western herbs have their place. I researched and wrote the book Western Herbs for Martial Artists and Contact Athletes to offer an alternative to waiting and doing nothing while sprains, bruises, dislocations heal. The right herb can knock days, weeks, sometimes even months off the time one must take off training to heal an injury.

  20. dyenina e.l. said :

    I thank the modern medical world in prolonging a human life span by inventing supplements and treating other diseases. Cancer has always been a disease that the modern science cannot beat. Who does not want to live? If the mmw (modern medical world) can guarantee that a human will live longer after undergoing chemotherapy/radiation therapy to treat cancer, who can refuse such procedures? Cancer patients are living longer by changing their lifestyles and eating fruits and vegetables with high anti-cancer properties. Chemotherapy kills cancer cells but it does not promise you life! If i will die of cancer, I want to die slowly and naturally. I do not want to die while being treated with chemotherapy. Until now, I have been looking for the better success rate of chemotherapy and radiation therapy in treating cancer. It does not go above the rate of alternative medicine’s (fruit and vegetable diet).


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