What are advantages and disadvantages of alternative medical therapies?

Living in the 21st century we witness a continuous progress of conventional medicine. New hospitals are being built and they are being equipped with all kinds of modern apparatus. Doctors and nurses work develop their qualifications by attending international conferences and doing extra postgraduate courses. Finally, risky yet successful operations are carried out every day making our chances of full recovery or at least survival much greater than in hospitals of the past. In spite of all these medical achievements, a lot of patients decide upon undergoing alternative therapies instead of consulting medical specialists.

Faith healers, medicine men as well as some family doctors offering homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal medicine, etc. see thousands of patients who either got disappointed with traditional treatment or want to supplement it with alternative techniques. Definitely, alternative therapies seem to be growing in popularity.

Professors of medicine and most general practitioners heavily criticize alternative therapies. They say that rejecting conventional methods and hospital treatment in favour of drinking herbal tea or having needles inserted into particular points on the body does more harm than good. They also claim that after receiving such treatment, the patient’s recovery – if it happens at all – is only temporary. According to these skeptics, healing depends only on the sufferer’s strong will and not the healer’s work as there is not enough scientific evidence that such therapies work.

There is no doubt that some conmen dealing with alternative medicine prey on other people’s misfortunes. Such charlatans make real fortunes on selling tap water or flour convincing sufferers they have come into possession of a priceless cureall. We wonder how anyone can be so naive but on the other hand, it is easy to understand people for whom alternative therapy is their last hope.

Should we condemn alternative disciplines altogether? Some methods like homeopathy or herbal medicine are as old as the hills. If they were totally ineffective, they would not have survived for so long. Besides, most modern medicines are made of plants and chemical elements that have been used for centuries.

To my mind, non-invasive and chemical-free methods are worth our attention. Perhaps only few terminally ill patients regain strength and get back on their feet, but such therapies are probably quite effective in less serious diseases. If a sufferer’s hopes are raised, then his optimism and positive attitude can lead towards full recovery or at least a much better general physical and mental state during the last stage of his life.

Obviously, for anyone, I definitely would not recommend getting rid of traditional treatment especially if the patient is suffering from a life-threatening illness. I would also not recommend buying ‘miraculous medicines’ in street markets or visiting charlatans. However, if our family doctor takes use of alternative therapies alongside conventional methods, then why not trust him?


Pytanie, które może zadać egzaminator

Do you think that it is possible for the 21st century ­medicine to combine conventional therapies ­with alternative ones when treating patients?

To my mind it is not only possible but also advisable. In my presentation I tried to prove that when it comes to saving a patient’s life doctors should supplement conventional medicine with unorthodox and innovative therapies. As long as they are not harmful, it is worth trying if at least one human life can be saved. I think that medical schools should give lectures on complementary therapies and doctors ought to introduce them to their medical practice. Still, I am strongly against untrained people who pretend to be doctors and who dispense medical advice and treatment – they should be prosecuted.