Alternative Medicine - a viable alternative to orthodox medicine
The term "Alternative medicine" refers to an alternative medical system to that of Western orthodox medicine - hence the name 'Alternative'. A quick look at the Orthodox system of medicine will help to identify and define alternative medical systems.
Orthodox medicine (or conventional medicine) is a complete system of medicine. It has western principles as a fundamental philosophical base, and uses therapies including drug therapy, surgery, physiotherapy, psychiatry, psychology, dentistry and others in its arsenal of treatments against diseases and disorders.
Traditional Chinese medicine is one example of an alternative medical system. Its philosophical base is Taoism. Chinese medicine also has a variety of therapies at its disposal. These include: Acupuncture, Moxibustion, Chinese herbal medicine, Tui Na, Tai Qi and Qi Gong, as well as providing dietary advice based on the same fundamental principles that underpin the other therapies.
In China, physicians of traditional Chinese medicine can undergo additional training to become surgeons or dentist, etc. Similarly, in western Orthodox medicine, a physician can undergo more training to become a Psychiatrist, Surgeon, etc. Either system of medicine allows for specialization and further development of expertise.
Alternative Medicine is also referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). However, Complementary medicine, by definition, means that it is used together with conventional medicine, while alternative medicine is practiced in place of conventional medicine.
What Forms of Alternative Medicine Are There?
Alternative medicine includes such medical systems as Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Ayurveda, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Some would argue that Western herbal medicine is also a complete medical system and should also be listed under the category of Alternative medicine.
Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine are the oldest systems of alternative medicine. Both these systems date back thousands of years. Homeopathy on the other hand is the most recent, having emerged out of the beginings of orthodox medicine by a doctor called Samuel Hahnemann. His work the "Organon of rational therapeutics" was first published in 1810.
Naturopathic medicine grew out of alternative healing systems of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but traces its philosophical roots to the vitalistic school of medicine of Ancient Greece (circa 400 BC).
Herbal medicine is the oldest form of healthcare known to mankind. Herbs had been used by all cultures throughout history.