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HomeMedical Information Electronic Informed Consent to Disclose Medical Information and Medical Confidentiality WaiverInnovative MedicineTraditional vs. Modern: Is there room for alternative therapies in the modern medical setting?

Traditional vs. Modern: Is there room for alternative therapies in the modern medical setting?

By: Medix Team

Research has shown us that choosing to combine both Traditional Alternative/Chinese Medicine and Modern Conventional Medicine ensures the best medical outcomes. Read on to understand the correct way to do this

The term alternative medicine is thrown around quite often these days and its popularity is increasing the world over. Between 50%-83% of cancer patients have used some form of alternative therapies during the treatment of their disease. Needless to say, these figures are staggering. However despite its prevalence, alternative medicine is difficult to define mainly because the title covers a large range of treatments such as acupuncture, herbal remedies, supplements and dietary changes.


There are two ways in which these treatments can be used; both can be illustrated using cancer as example. The first is called AM (Alternative Medicine), and it means that the patient forgoes all conventional treatment options such as chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy, opting instead for alternative medicines as the sole treatment. The second is called CM or CAM and stands for Complementary and Alternative Treatment. This means that a patient receives alternative medicines in addition to receiving conventional cancer therapies.   


Regarding AM, the most important question is if it works, and how it compares with conventional cancer treatments. A recent study sheds light on this exact question. Cancer patients with lung, colon and breast cancer who opted for AM were compared with a group of patients that had received regular treatment using survival after 5 years as an endpoint. The results were clear: breast cancer patients treated solely with AM had a survival rate of 68.5% as opposed to 86.6% among patients treated conventionally. For lung cancer, survival reduced from 41.3% under regular treatment to 32.4% and for colon cancer survival reduced from 79.4% to 50.8% under AM. This does not mean that alternative therapies are to be avoided completely, only that if you are interested in alternative therapies, it is best to opt for the complementary approach.


One point to note when using CAM is that it is extremely important to notify the treating physicians about these treatments. Research shows that many patients believe that because alternative therapies are often herbal or natural, it is not necessary to disclose them to the doctor. This is however mistaken; natural substances can have an effect on the human body. Penicillin for example, one of the world’s first antibiotics, is a natural occurring substance which greatly impacts the body. The upshot of this is that some alternative therapies may influence your body and interfere with conventional treatments. To avoid this risk, transparency is the best solution. A good doctor will take your preferences into account and make sure the treatments being used are effective and safe.     


In summary, alternative therapies are popular and widely used. If interested in this kind of treatment you should follow these steps: be sure to opt for a complementary treatment plan which integrates conventional and alternative methods. Second, be sure to tell your doctor your preferences and interests so he can help you make a safe and healthy decision. Last but not least, seek doctors that take a holistic approach and are prepared to hear you out and work with you to find the best combination for you. 

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