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7 Benefits Of Complementary Medicine

By Rachel Nall
Updated January 15, 2015

Good health is extremely precious, and you owe it to yourself to do all you can to get and maintain it. In this context, don’t make the mistake of thinking that your current treatment plan is all there is. You might see a huge difference in how you feel by adding complementary medicine.

As the name suggests, complementary medicine simply refers to therapies you add to what you’re already doing.

They can be mainstream, such as chiropractic care, or alternative, such as sound therapy. Common examples are yoga, naturopathy and massage.

Consider these great reasons to explore complementary medicine with your doctor’s guidance.

1) You Can Fill In The “Gaps” Your Current Plan Leaves

Sometimes, a good medical treatment plan addresses most but not all of the problems you’re having. For instance, if you’ve had a stroke, your doctor might do a fantastic job of providing speech or other physical therapy, watching your blood pressure or completing a necessary surgery. He might not be able to help much with the stress and frustration that comes from your physical struggles, however. In this case, you could look into complementary options like sound therapy or massage to stay relaxed.

2) You Can Reduce Side Effects

Many medications and procedures your doctor might use can have negative side effects. Some drugs, for instance, can cause you to pack on extra pounds, addressing your main health problem but potentially causing others. Complementary methods such as yoga can burn calories in this instance, while options like hypnosis can keep you from responding too readily to cravings. Of course, complementary methods themselves can have side effects, too, so talk with your doctor or review current websites, journals or articles about the therapies to know exactly what you could experience.

3) You Can Get More Involved And In Control Of Your Care

The current hustle-and-bustle of overburdened health care systems means that even good doctors often have to practice brevity with you, diagnosing, prescribing or completing procedures quickly without having the chance to develop a more holistic plan. You might feel incompetent or disregarded because of this, despite your physician’s best intentions. With complementary medicine, you can try many different therapies for a more well-rounded treatment approach, feeling empowered by the availability of choices, your coordination of the varying methods and the knowledge you’re brave enough to try something else.

4) You Can Take Comfort In More Touch And Conversation

In general, complementary therapists usually spend more time with their clients, often up to an hour. Additionally, complementary medicine practices can involve more physical contact, such as with massage. For some patients, this ability to connect with conversation and the body makes all the difference in keeping feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety at bay. Just be honest about what you are comfortable with, as tolerances are very individual and there are many complementary techniques out there to try.

5) You Have Many Organic And Natural Options

Complementary therapies such as herbs, acupuncture, dietary modification, Reiki, and meditation often don’t require you to use any “altered” or artificial substances. Although you shouldn’t automatically assume that “from Mother Nature” means “safe” (rhubarb and tomato leaves are both poisonous, for example), the use of unmodified substances can mean you’re not putting unnecessary toxins into your body. Natural methods also might let you enjoy a feeling of spiritual oneness with your environment, which can be very relaxing.

6) You Are Not Your Neighbor

No two people’s bodies are exactly the same, meaning that you might not respond to a conventional treatment the way someone else does. Complementary medicine is very good at addressing this individuality. For instance, if a very safe medication doesn’t bring your blood pressure down as much as it does for most people, your doctor might suggest adding something like meditation or yoga, rather than putting you on a riskier drug or upping your dose. In the same way, you can pick therapies that appeal to you based on your philosophies and preferences. A family member might prefer prayer to relax, for example, whereas you might prefer music therapy.

Pin It 7) You Can Help Others

Many complementary therapies have significant research to back up assertions about their safety and effectiveness, but professionals are still gathering information on the majority of what’s out there. Although you never should take a risk you don’t feel is necessary, your willingness to go out on a limb can provide valuable data to medical professionals and scientists. That data can make particular therapies acceptable or prove they’re safe.

What Do You Think?

The decision to use complementary medicine is a highly personal and individual one. Even so, these positive points about it suggest it’s well worth a try.

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Katherine Hurst
By Rachel Nall
She is a 2005 honors program graduate from the University of Tennessee in Journalism and Political Science. Selected as a "Torchbearer" at the University of Tennessee, the highest honor given to a university student. She began her writing career with the Associated Press in Brussels, Belgium. She enjoys writing about health care, her practice and passion. Rachel is a full-time nurse at a 20-bed intensive care unit focusing primarily on cardiac care. She enjoys educating her patients and readers on how to live healthier and happier lives.

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