Thursday, May 17, 2007

Alternative Medicine

Years ago, things seemed so simple when it came to medicine and the attempt at curing an illness. If one had an ache or pain, the choices were fairly limited- take a pill or go to the doctor and he/she will prescribe one for you to take. In today’s society, the choices towards step a cure seem limitless. Traditional medicine seems to be just another option, as opposed to the standard practice. People throughout the world are choosing complementary and alternative medicine options, and these numbers are growing exponentially.[1]
There are innumerable options when it comes to complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). Modalities of these include the following: chiropractic care, acupuncture, herbal remedies, homeopathy, and naturopathy. One of the aforementioned methods of treatment which ring positive for many are herbal remedies. Many claim to provide positive results without harmful side effects. Due to the virtually unregulated state of the supplement industry, many consumers are unaware that the majority of products distributed are sold without any backing/approval whatsoever from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Acupuncture, a prevalent form of Chinese medicine practiced among Americans, involves the insertion of long, thin needles to affect the energy flow within the body.[2] Although some of the mechanisms of acupuncture as it applies to pain relief have been studied, little is known of the positive and/or negative effects of this procedure on the physical performance parameters of healthy people, particularly highly trained athletes.[3] Persons practicing acupuncture are state-licensed, so it would be wise to check the credentials should one pursue acupuncture treatment.
Having been practiced for over one hundred years, chiropractic medicine is now utilized by over twenty million Americans. Chiropractic medicine is based on the idea that a life-giving energy flows through the spine via the nervous system.[4] If a portion of one’s spine/neck is subluxated, the chiropractor manipulates the disc(s) in order to put the body back into “working order.” The goal is to retain proper energy flow in an effort to maintain wellness, ward off disease, etc… Chiropractors are seen for treatment of many problems including general back pain, multiple sclerosis, and migraine headaches. The data reviewed in a recent research article present a rather strong case for the pathophysiology of headaches of cervical origin and shows that such a cervical component may be present in tension-type and migraine headaches as well as the currently accepted category of CH.[5]
It seems that while complementary and alternative medicine forms of medicine provide many positive effects, there are also many risks. As stated earlier, the lack of government regulation and the absence of FDA approval on the majority of substances make it a game of chance when it comes to supplements. From a consumer standpoint, one needs to carefully check reputable sources and engage the assistance of a health professional (i.e. an R.D.) when investigating supplements and alternative medicine.

Donatelle, Rebecca J. Health the Basics, 5th edition, Pearson Education, Inc., (San Francisco), 2003.

Pelham, Thomas, Holt, Laurence, and Stalker, Robert. Acupuncture in Human Performance. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 15(2): 266-271.

Vernon, Howard. Spinal manipulation in the management of tension-type migraine and cervicogenic headaches: the state of the evidence. Topics in Clinical Chiropractic. March 2002 v9 i1 p14(7).

[1] Health The Basics
[2] Health The Basics
[3] Acupuncture in Human Performance
[4] Health The Basics
[5] Topics in Clinical Chiropractic: Spinal manipulation in the management of tension-type migraine and cervicogenic headaches: the state of the evidence.

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