Alternative Medicine

Last Updated: March 29, 2019

Definition - What does Alternative Medicine mean?

Alternative medicine refers to therapeutic intervention techniques that are not conventional modes of medical treatment that include homeopathy, naturopathy, and supplemental medications. Study reports indicate a growing trend of enlisting the services of practitioners that specialize in acupuncture, chiropractic medicine, energy therapies, and herbal medicine. Although alternative medicine remains controversial, physicians are beginning to incorporate its use into their practice following clearance from valid testing measures.

WorkplaceTesting explains Alternative Medicine

Alternative medicine variations can have health benefits for individuals experiencing psychological disturbances, musculoskeletal issues, and even biorhythmic disruptions. For instance, acupuncture and chiropractic medicine garner recognition for their distinct application in helping treat anxiety, depression, back pain spells, and insomnia. Energy therapy capitalizes on using natural energy through tactile (touch) sensation or employing Reiki, a form of alternative medicine that involves moving the hands slightly above the energy fields of the body to facilitate healing, but inconclusive evidence supports its use.

Polarizing opinions continue to surround the overall efficacy of alternative medicine as a legitimate methodology within the medical field. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 is a federal mandate that stipulates herbal medicine products are exempt from an official safety disclaimer, underpinning poor regulations that can compromise health. Moreover, case studies have discovered the presence of toxic compounds (i.e., metals) in natural supplements that manufacturers otherwise deem as safe, for example, Ayurvedic medicine products that have proven to be detrimental to health.

Because of the lack of scientific data, the disparity between the purported health benefits and lax regulation control surrounding discrete alternative medicine interventions undermine its credibility as a replacement for traditional medical care. Consequently, individuals who fail to inform their employers about taking herbal or natural supplements may experience contraindications due to environmental conditions in the workplace that involve exposure to chemical agents. For this reason, occupational health providers can serve as a liaison in educating personnel about the advantages and disadvantages coupled with safety factors related to alternative medicine.

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