Sabina Clara Sorrentino

shootceaselessUrban and Civil

Nov 16, 2013 (3 years and 4 months ago)

74 views

Sorrentino
1


Sabina Clara Sorrentino

1134398

BXE Section 17

March 7, 2013


Project Related Assignment:
Alternative Therapies


Humans have suffered from illnesses from the very beginning and it is from that moment
that the practice of medicine started. Signs of
prehistoric medicine have been discovered all over
the

g
lo
be
. These primitive civilizations used all kind of treatments to

try to alleviate the ills that
tormented them. Evidence has been found of ancient surgery techniques to treat epilepsy and
severe hea
daches
, clay molds as a way of set
ting broken or fractured bones,
ants to close
up
wounds, and the practice of using plant extracts as medication.

Of course hundreds of years have
passed and technology has
made enormous progress in the field of medicine
,

many time
s
disproving obsolete practices. S
ome of the great advances of the last century being
:

vaccines,
antibiotics, medical imaging,

anesthesia
, etc.

In our times physicians can diagnose, treat and give
a prognosis for almost every illness that exists,

but what happens when the common treatment
does not work? When
it

is too harsh on the body? When there is no hope for recovery?

When
there is a need for

complement
ary treatment
?

With the increasing life expectancy and the ever
expanding list of
carcinogen
ic

chemicals in our day to day life, more and more people have to
face
the
hard truth that is a life with Alzheimer’s
,

or with
some
form

of cancer.

Other types of
syndromes like autism
or depression
deliver

the same kind of struggle. One in which the science
we have is not enough.

Some people
resort

then

to alternative

and complementary

therapies

also
Sorrentino
2


called

CAM
.

These therapies are not always
back
ed

up
by occidental modern medicine. When
considering these k
ind
s of practices one must really look into three factors: what types of
therapies exist, are
thes
e therapies safe, and do they really work.



People look for alternatives
-
complementary therapies for a mult
itude of reasons and there
is a

high
equal numbe
r of therapies to meet the demand; thes
e can
be divided into categories:



Alternative Medical S
ystems: these are complete systems that run parallel to
western medicine, for example traditional Chinese medicine

or
homeopathic
medicine
.



Mind
-
Body
Interventions
: In these types of therapies, the emphasis is put on the
effect and the power of the mind to heal the body. These can go from the now
mainstream
cognitive
-
behavioral therapy

to
meditation

or
prayer
.



Biologically Based Therapies
: in this type
of treatments, the focus on alternatives
or complements to the
western drugs. It can be either by changing completely the
patient’s diet to the intake of herbal products or other natural products.



Manipulative and Body
-
Based Methods: these are the ones tha
t are based on the
external manipulation of the body. These can include chiropractic, osteopathic
and massages.



Energy Th
erapies: this one focuses on the use of energy fields and
electromagnetic fields to heal. Some examples of this are qi
gong,

and
Reiki
.

And so a syndrome such as autism where there is no clear cause, and no scientific “solution”, can
be approached from different aspects. The alternative and complementary therapies will attempt
to diminish the abnormal social behaviors and increase the qua
lity of life.

Massage therapy,
Sorrentino
3


animal
-
assisted therapy, special diets, and music therapy, are a few of the wide variety being
used to treat patients with autism.


One of the most important factors when considering the use of an alternative
-
complementary
therapy is if these t
reatments are safe.
Sometimes
,
when
patients are looking for
CAM therapies, these are their last options. People suffering from
late phase

cancer

for
example
are
usually desperate and are willing to try whatever they are offered on the hopes of healing;
and while some treatments may show improvement, other can have no effect or worse,
aggravate

the patient’s health.
If done wrong, these practices
endanger t
he peopl
e

being
treated. For
example acupuncture

carries a risk of
infection, diets like the macrobiotic one

a risk of
malnutrition, and chiropractic treatment a risk of stroke.
So before embarking with these
treatments
,

a thoughtful investigation of the considere
d therapy and the practitioner providing it
is needed i
n order to insure the safety.


The other
factor of weight to consider
is that many of these therapies have no scientific
support.
S
ome of these practices are new and there has been no time to
study the

results; o
ther
are ancient
,

and even if there are several scientific studies showing that there is no benefit, they
continue to be extremely popular. Examples of this can be found on traditional Chinese
medicine, where
different parts of animals are consi
dered to h
ave
therapeutic properties. Shark
cartilage is currently used as a cancer remedy even though

there are

multiple studies showing
that this has no effect on the tumors. As a
result of this belief
, millions of
sharks are hunted down
for their fins;
endangering the species.

Bear bile is used as a way of lowering cholesterol levels
and while the active substance (
ursodeoxycholic acid
) is proven to
work, the same substance can
be artificially
synthesized
. Chinese medicine practitioners continue their u
se of bear bile, and in
this way the abuse of hundreds of bears living in harvesting farms.

But there exists other types of
Sorrentino
4


alternative therapies where the beneficial effects are well known and accepted throughout the
scientific community. For example, the

exercise of yoga, along with a good diet is well known to
be very beneficial for the body
. For instance, according to
The Journal of Rheumatology
, in the
study “
Evaluation of a yoga based regimen for treatment of osteoarthritis of the hands
” they
conclude
d that the group treated with yoga showed a significant relief in pain and increase in
range of motion during the test activities.

In conclusion,
when seeking to start with an alternative or complementary treatment it is
best to do research on it. There are thousands of options and not all of them are safe or effective.
The best option being the partnership of western modern medicine and well invest
igated
complementary therapies, for some of them
, when well
-
practiced,

enhance the common medical
treatment.