Alternative medicine comprises of a wide variety of medical and healthcare systems products and practices that have not been integrated into conventional medicine. Despite the increasing use of alternative medicine, there has been a controversial debate on the value of alternative medicine as a viable substitute or complement to conventional medicine. Many researchers have explored the efficiency of different practices and procedures falling under the alternative medicine category. This paper will discuss the extent to which alternative medicine may serve as a viable treatment option. The first section of the paper will describe the different types of alternative medicine while other sections will critically analyze the value of alternative medicine.
There are five distinct categories of alternative medicine. The first category comprises of natural products such as herbs, vitamins, and minerals. Mind and body medicine such as meditation and yoga define the second category of alternative medicine. Body-based approaches such as massages and whole medical systems such as acupuncture define two other categories of complementary and alternative medicine. The fourth category comprises of energy healing practices such as reiki. Although the above defines the main categories of alternative medicine, there is still a heated debate concerning a conscience definition of alternative medicine. In addition, some researchers have continued to question the classification of practices and products under alternative medicine. In the recent past, integrative medicine has proven to be a preferred approach for many patients. Notably, the approach involves a combination of conventional medicine and mother procedures falling under the category of alternative medicine (Baarts &. Pedersen 2009, p. 730). Research in this field has revealed that integrative medicine is more likely to produce outcomes in patients, which are more positive if conducted well.