Alternative Medicine: Perceptions, Uses and Benefits and Clinical Implications



Table of Contents

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) today attracts significant attention through online health and consumer forums, professional CAM-practitioner associations and conferences, the recent growth in integrative biomedicine, and through the influence of advertisements and documentary presentations in mass media. A majority or large minority of consumers in developed countries regularly resort to professional CAM for supportive treatment for sickness in the form of chiropractic, osteopathic, prescribed dietary changes, acupuncture, massage, homeopathy, naturopathy and herbal medicine, and also use numerous associated lifestyle practices such as vegetarianism, nutritional supplementation, yoga and tai chi for self-treatment and to maintain general wellbeing. Many leading health insurance funds now provide generous rebates against out-of-pocket fees paid by consumers for private-sector CAM consultations. Furthermore, populations of developing countries continue to depend heavily on traditional herbal medicine and psycho-spiritual practices for their healing, on account of pharmaceutical treatments being often unaffordable or unavailable to them.

Chapters of this book include literature reviews (such as study findings about the benefits of CAM for elderly persons and of laughter therapy, from the USA, and herbal treatments for pain, in Mauritius), and original studies (poor CAM consumers in Australia, the location of naturopaths’ practice in Canada, and the use of mindfulness meditation among nursing students in Scotland). Study findings presented here are enjoyable in their diversity, and add to contemporary literature both by presenting common perceptions about CAM, by engaging in discussion of its prevalence and popularity in diverse contexts, and the contentious topic of placebo effect and the questions that arise as to how to prove effectiveness for alternative healing methods, while reviewing some potential clinical benefits. (Imprint: Nova Biomedical)

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