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Non-Traditional Medicinal Choices, Research Paper Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1333

Research Paper

Introduction

Non-traditional healthcare practices and medicine have been on the rise recently due to so many people suffering from chronic illnesses (Lee, 2006). Contrary to older beliefs that non-traditional medicine involved witch-craft and other forms of sorcery, many people feel it is a healthy alternative or compliment to modern medicine. Non-traditional medicinal practices are usually community and culturally linked, which makes it readily available and easy to access. Many non-traditional practitioners prescribe their clients herbs that can come in a powder, capsule, or its natural form, salves, tonics, and other forms of medicine that they would not be prescribed by a traditional doctor. Many cultures have been practicing non-traditional healing for centuries. People from these various cultures have brought their traditional medical practices to the United States, and those practices have been adopted and or added to modern traditional medical practices. As a result, clinicians of today must be aware of the different cultural values and how these cultural beliefs may affect person’s choice of healthcare practices. Many factors affect a person’s culture, including, but not limited to, education, socio-economic, region of birth, and age (Abdullah, 2003). One of the greatest challenges that American healthcare professionals face is cultural issues when diagnosing and treating patients from other cultures. American healthcare providers approach diseases by assuming that some external factor has caused the illness, while non-traditional medical approach tends to be centered on the whole body. Non-traditional medicine has stood the test of time and continues to be used and trusted by many.

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)

Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM is considered non-traditional medicine to many Americans (Cassidy, 1998). TCM is a system of that is grounded in two major principles: Yin and Yang. In order for a person to live a happy healthy life, several components must be in harmony. With this belief, harmony means health, nice weather, fortune. On the other hand, disharmony means disease, disaster, and bad luck. The purpose of Chinese medicine is to restore harmony for each person (Cassidy, 1998).  Herbal medicine is an important component of TCM. The Chinese use herbal medicines to restore the body’s natural balance. These methods have been used for centuries to treat illness from arthritis to dementia. Many of their herbal supplements come in the form of raw herbs that can be taken internally or altered to make balms or tinctures that can be used externally.  Acupuncture is one of the better known TCM’s. With this type of therapy, tiny needles are inserted into specific points on the patient’s body. It is believed that certain parts of the body are energy channels and by inserting needles into these specific areas will generate free flowing energy to the mind and body. Acupuncture is also used as a form of preventative medicine that helps to treat muscle pain, headaches, anxiety, depression, and gynecological issues (Cassidy, 1998).

Benefits of Non-Traditional Practices

One of the greatest benefits of non-traditional medical practices is its holistic approach. The idea of holism is that the person’s physical body is not the only portion of a person affected by illness. An illness can affect a person’s mental and emotional state being. Consequently, treatment should not just focus on illness in the physical form, but it should address all areas of the individual. Under the holistic view, it is believed that a person can take responsibility for the creation of good health and the alleviation of pain. It is believed that the doctor is just a facilitator for positive changes and that the patient has more effect on their health by changing their mindset (Cassidy, 1998; Abdullah et. al, 2003). Another great benefit of non-traditional medicine is the relief of pain-both physical and emotional. Many clients have reported that it produces calm and relaxing state of being without the fear of becoming drug dependent (Mason, 2008). While others have reported a feel of wellness, balance, and wholeness because they felt more connected to their physical and mental bodies (Lee, 2006). In one study, women undergoing chemotherapy who were battling breast cancer reported that improvements in the side effects they were experiencing after trying one or another form of non-traditional medicine (Lee, 2006). According to the study, the use of non-traditional Chinese medicine along with other forms of traditional medicine greatly improves the quality of one’s life. Nearly half of the participants in the cancer study reported that they felt modern medicine was superior in treating their cancer, but believed that using non-traditional methods in conjunction with it produced even greater positive outcomes. Many of the women reported that they used Qi Gong (a type of energy healing) after using traditional cancer treatments. They believed it help their bodies to recover from the harsh chemicals and may prevent the cancer from recurring (Lee, 2006)

Acupuncture and Moxibustion

More often than not, acupuncture is used in conjunction with moxibustion-the burning of the herb Artemisia Vulgaris. When the herb is burnt, the smoke must penetrate the underlying part of the body. According to this practice, there are 500 pressure or energy points on the body and only 10 to 12 points can be used for each treatment; however, different points can be changed during the duration of a treatment (Mason, 2008). Many cancer patients have noted the benefits of using TCM in conjunction with other medical methods. A number of patients have reported having more energy while taking traditional chemotherapy methods (Mason, 2008). One study conducted by Robertshawe (2008), found that patients who were battling cancer and utilized acupuncture and acupressure relayed that their fatigue was less severe. Another study showed that patients using non-traditional methods of treatment reported that their intensity and duration of chronic complaints decreased (Cassidy, 1998).

Why Choose Non-traditional Medicine

Patients chose non-traditional medicines for many reasons. A person’s cultural and spiritual beliefs play a significant role in his/her choice to use non-traditional approaches to diseases and ailments. Every culture has a set of beliefs about what causes illnesses and how it can be treated and cured. For example, Hispanics have a strong heritage that dictates what is acceptable and what is not. Many of them share a fatalistic view of health and believe that illness is God’s will or a type of divine punishment brought on by sinful behaviors. Likewise, Native Americans believe that a person’s health is determined by his/her harmonious relationship with nature. They believe that illnesses are brought on by supernatural forces and usually seek the advice of a shaman or medicine man. These cultural differences affect the patients’ perspective about medical care (Mason, 2008). Unfortunately, healthcare workers have hoped that people from cultural diversified communities would convert to mainstream medical practices. These barriers have complicated medical treatment for these individuals. Many view non-traditional treatments as a safer method that has fewer adverse side effects.

My Area

Growing in a community where the God is its foundation, the people in my community always seek the advice and prayers of their ministers about medical conditions. In a Christian community, traditional medicine is not shunned, but prayer is imperative. We believe that without the will of God, medicine would not work.

Conclusions

Nontraditional medical practices have been around for centuries and don’t show any signs of disappearing any time soon. People choose non-traditional methods for various reasons, but the choice is mostly influenced by cultural background. Acupuncture, acupressure and herbal supplements are the most widely used forms of non-traditional methods.

References

Abdullah, A.S.M., Lau, Y., & Chow, L.W.C. (2003).  Pattern of alternative medicine usage among the Chinese breast cancer patients: Implication for service integration.  The American Journal of Chinese Medicine.  31(4) 649-658.

Cassidy, C.M., (1998).  Chinese medicine users in the united states Part II: Preferred aspects of care.  The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 4(2). 189-202.

Lee, T.S., Chen, H.H., & Yeh, M.L., (2006).  Effects of chan-chuang qigong on improving symptom and psychological distress in chemotherapy patients.  The American Journal of Chinese Medicine.  34(1).  37-46.

Mason, M., (2008). Pain relief to a point. Nursing Standard. 22(51).  22-23.

Robertshawe, P., (2008). Cancer-related fatigue managed with acupuncture and acupressure. Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society. 14(4). 229.

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