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Don’t Confuse ‘Alternative’ Medicine With ‘Complementary’ Medicine


With all the talk about alternative approaches to modern medicine these days, a growing population is trying to stay away from the doctor’s orders and follow a more “natural” path.

And while the motivation behind this trend is understandable, it’s important to remember that not all “alternative” treatments are the same, though some natural therapies and supplements can complement established medicine.

The Internet is teeming with articles and advice touting the benefits of all-natural remedies, from herbal treatments to oils and concoctions mixed from your kitchen pantry. And as much as we want these options to work, the question often remains, will they?

The verdict: sometimes, maybe. But often, science is unable to substantiate the claims of these remedies and, in some cases, using these remedies in place of treatments that have been proven effective or to put off seeking medical care can exacerbate the problem.

Rather than using these natural remedies in place of traditional medicine, you can often use them to complement medically established treatments.

There are many supplements, for instance, that have been demonstrated to offer medical benefits. Probiotics have been shown to reduce the occurrence of diarrhea after a course of antibiotics, and zinc can prevent the replication of rhinoviruses in the body and shorten the duration of colds. Many cancer patients swear by the power of ginger to alleviate nausea after undergoing treatments, and studies have shown that taking a garlic supplement daily can help lower blood pressure.

And some treatments, used along with medically established therapies, may simply make individuals feel better in general, whether they help calm an individual or help him or her with the symptoms of an illness. Many people have found benefits from natural treatments and therapies, including:

  • Yoga
  • Massage therapy
  • Osteopathic manipulation
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture
  • Reiki
  • Chiropractic care

It is important for your health that you know the difference between alternative and complementary treatments. Be careful that you don’t ignore your medical provider’s recommended treatment, but ask him or her if there are additional therapies you can try as well.

Also, be mindful that some over-the-counter supplements or therapies may actually interfere with the therapy recommended by your medical provider. That’s why it’s so important that you tell your medical provider about all the medications, supplements and other alternative and complementary remedies you’re using. Keep a list of these treatments current and share it with your medical providers regularly.

Tanner Primary Care at Mirror Lake is located in Villa Rica, Ga. For more information, call 770.812.3839 or visit www.PrimaryCareMirrorLake.org.

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