Until a couple of years ago, alternative medicine was an alien concept in North American culture. However, there appears to be a growing consciousness regarding alternative medicine as a better form of health care as compared to conventional medicine.

Conventional medicine is being viewed as a form of treatment that has numerous side effects. The approach of conventional medicine appears focused on the illness of the patient instead of their health. Physicians have also been blamed for intentionally downplaying better medicines in order to remain in business.


Generally, the approach of conventional medicine is based on the treatment of symptoms rather than the underlying cause of most ailments. For instance, oncology is basically focused on hammering cancer cells into submission, or amputating the affected areas as in the case of breast cancer. Alternative medicine on the other hand appears more focused on preventative treatment and holistic treatment. In other words, alternative therapies attempt to understand the underlying cause of disease in the human body.

Alternative medicine refers to any form of treatment or therapy that is outside western standards of medicine. There is no official definition of alternative medicine since it comprises so many varied forms of treatment and their efficacies have not yet been fully studied.

For instance; stress, poor dieting, and exposure to certain carcinogenic substances are among the underlying causes of cancer. Alternative medicine appreciates this and approaches treatment of cancer from the perspective of treating the mind, body, and spirit for effective and lasting treatments.

Conventional treatments, such as the use of painkillers and other strong drugs, chemotherapy and radiology have been found to harm the body more than the diseases they are meant to treat. It’s no wonder, therefore, that many people are turning to alternative medicine as their primary form of treatment. Some physicians recommend the use of both conventional and alternative forms of treatment for the best results.

There are so many different alternative therapies available for patients, so let’s examine the most common of these alternative medicines.


This is an eastern form of treatment that has been practiced in China and other Asian countries for centuries. It involves inserting needles into specific areas of the body to induce relaxation and create an energy balance in the body.

Acupuncture is based on the ancient Chinese philosophy that health is attained when the human body and the universal forces are in harmony. Acupuncture therapists have, for decades, discovered acupuncture points which can be stimulated to attain this universe-body energy equilibrium.

By inserting fine and sterilized needles into these acupuncture points through the skin, the body re-orients itself to the universal forces. Further enhancement of stimulation can be achieved by using heat, electric shocks and pressure. Acupuncture combines needle insertion into the skin with other techniques such as cupping, massages, heat therapy and the application of traditional herbs for maximum outcomes.

Acupuncture is believed to cure a wide range of ailments. It is believed to evoke the body’s natural healing capabilities. It also enhances the natural body systems such as the endocrine, digestive, circulatory, and cardiovascular systems, ensuring your body works as if it’s new.

This therapy is renowned as a pain reliever, especially for patients with chronic diseases. It improves sleep, dissipates stress and increases the feeling of well-being.


Acupressure can be considered acupuncture’s cousin since they both operate on the same principles. The main difference between acupuncture and acupressure is that the latter uses pressure instead of sterile needles to get the job done.

Acupressure is believed to unblock clogged body energy paths to restore energy balance in the body. The therapist uses her fingertips, elbows, palms and feet to apply pressure to specific points along the meridian of the body.

Acupuncture has been recommended by physicians treating patients with cancer. It releases anxiety among patients, reduces cases of nausea – which is a problem associated with cancer patients due to the medication they are undergoing – and cures insomnia.

In a recent study acupressure was also found to be very effective in easing fatigue especially among breast cancer survivors.


Aromatherapy involves using a number of plant extracts that occur naturally to enhance the body, mind and spiritual health of patients through inhaling and smearing on the skin as an ointment. Most of the essential oils that are used for aromatherapy have strong, relaxing and tantalizing aromas and have been used for centuries. Some of these oils, such as frankincense, are mentioned in ancient religious texts suggesting that they have been in use for over 2,000 years. 

Recently, CBD oils which are extracted from Cannabis have been gaining popularity among Americans and are often administered through vaporizing or dabbing. They are believed to be instant mood enhancers and give immediate relief to anxiety and stress. They also relax muscles and, as a result, improve blood circulation in the body.

Other essential oils, such as lavender, peppermint, rosemary, bergamot, chamomile and many others are used in aromatherapy. In general, these essential oils are good for relaxation, improvement of blood circulation, and creating the feeling of well-being.

This therapy doesn’t need to be carried out by experts and can easily be applied as a home remedy for most patients. It is used, in most cases, as a complementary form of treatment to be used as a preventative form of treatment or alongside conventional treatment.


Balneotherapy is one of the oldest forms of treatment, and has existed since around 1700BC. There are references to ideologies of this therapy in ancient texts such as the Bible (certain people immersed themselves in the River Jordan and were cured of leprosy). This proves that it has been in use for centuries, but is now regaining its lost glory in the US.

As a therapy, Balneotherapy involves the use of water laced with minerals that are considered healthy for the skin. The treatments are used as mineral baths (also referred to as Dead Sea salt), sulfur baths, and radon-carbon dioxide baths. These baths are usually available in specific spas across the US.

According to a study in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, Balneotherapy has been found to be very effective in the treatment of rheumatological diseases such as osteoarthritis, chronic spinal cord and lower back pains, fibromyalgia and ankylosing spondylitis. It is also very good for the treatment of dermatological, allergic, and respiratory ailments among patients. Therefore, it is a form of alternative therapy that can be very beneficial to a wide range of patients.


Massage therapy is also something that has gained popularity among Americans. Initially, massages were viewed as a form of luxury for the rich. However, more and more people are going for massages for health reasons.

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, 53% of all Americans that underwent massage therapy did so because they were recommended by a physician. Evidently, it is no longer a hobby for the rich, but a necessary alternative form of medicine.

Massage therapy involves kneading and squeezing and other manipulations of the soft tissues of the body. These soft tissues include body muscles, and tendons and ligaments that connect muscles to the bones or other tissues.

People seek massage therapy for a number of reasons; to reduce stress, help relax the body, improve blood circulation, help heal injuries faster, relieve pain, and acquire the “feel good” feeling. There are very many types of massage therapies designed to meet the specific needs of the patient which are categorized into two.

Relaxation massages are generally geared around relaxing the body’s muscles and also relieving stress. They also calm the mind. Swedish massage is the main type of massage under this category. Relaxation massages are generally done by massage therapists in spas and massage parlors.

Deep tissue massage, or rehabilitative massage, is mainly given to patients recuperating from an injury or surgery. It is also given to patients who are bedridden to improve blood circulation in body tissues, relax muscles and relieve pain. This type of massage is performed by qualified medical practitioners who are qualified to perform the therapy. It is usually performed in hospitals, clinics, or the offices of chiropractors.

With the growing number of American believed to be stressed, massage therapy is something that can be done frequently to ensure you stay away from the doctor. However, it can cost you up to $500 for a monthly subscription. It’s worth every dime though.


What makes alternative medicine preferable to conventional medicine is the holistic approach of alternative medicine. Therapies such as acupuncture are based on the ideology that the body has the capacity to heal itself if working properly.

Alternative medicine aims to relieve the stress that patients face and to make them feel good about themselves. Once the human body is calm and stress-free, its immune system is strengthened and can therefore fight off diseases. Therefore, alternative medicines aim to heal the mind, body and spirit and are considered a more complete form of treatment. 

Conventional medicine is generally viewed as paying too much attention to the symptoms of the disease and avoiding addressing the underlying causes of these diseases. In addition, most of the treatments used in conventional medicine settings have a lot of side effects for patients.

Current trends indicate that alternative medicine will become even more popular in the future.

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