The most important questions and answers about alternative medicine at a glance

On this portal you will find a list of the most important questions and answerson the subject of alternative medicine, We, a team of doctors and patients, are constantly asking more questions and answers. If you have specific theme requests, write us!
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What is alternative medicine?

There is no standard definition of alternative medicine or alternative medicine. Even within the performing occupational groups such as Doctors or, above all, non-medical practitioners deal with views on the basics, contents and goals.

Terms very inaccurately defined

Synonymous is often spoken of holistic medicine and complementary medicine, which are also not clearly separated from each other in colloquial use. The World Health Organization, for example, also summarizes in a definition of complementary medicine and alternative medicine very inaccurately: "The term complementary medicine includes a wide range of healing methods that are not part of the tradition of each country and are not integrated into the dominant health system." To make matters worse that the terms have a different meaning in every country. Alone, this conceptual blurring is unfortunately the cause of many communication problems. Also the explanations given below can only give one point of view.

14 million Google hits

In terms of word formation, alternative medicine is a medicine that is used "instead of" or "in place" of scientifically established and officially learned medicine and psychology. It delimits itself from the pure word, there is no "as well as" but only a "either - or" (homeopathy instead of antibiosis, order therapy instead of sleeping pills). However, alternative medicine is often used in colloquial speech as an indiscriminate collective term for holistic medicine, natural medicine, complementary medicine and all non-conventional medical procedures. This is also reflected in over 14 million search results on Google under this keyword.

From acupuncture and homeopathy to commuting

What belongs to alternative medicine and what does not, about it already fierce disputes were kindled. In the large unmanageable pot of "alternative" understood medicine are scientifically evaluated therapies (eg the expertly performed hypnosis, relaxation procedures), in addition to us already established in individual areas procedures (eg homeopathy and acupuncture) as well as a number - after understanding classical medicine - in no way traceable methods (eg pulse diagnostics, iris diagnostics, gemstone therapy, extreme dietary regulations, commuting or even mental healing). Often, however, people associate these forms of diagnosis and treatment with the notion of "alternative medicine" that are not at all compatible with western thinking.

Since almost everything can be called "alternative", there is almost nothing that does not exist. Alternative medicine may be holistically oriented (for example Ayurveda), but it does not have to (eg special diets, the isolated administration of herbal ingredients). Some alternative methods can be gentle on classic medical treatments (myofascial therapy, hypnotherapy or acupuncture rather than pain medication), but others can also interact dangerously (St. John's wort in chemotherapy, mistletoe therapy in some cancers) or even harm health (almond kernels in toxic dose). Since alternative medicine has developed into a lucrative and unprotected market, there are not only very dedicated and versatile therapists but also dubious providers.

Author: Dr. med. Barbara Scholtissek, Practice Holistic Medicine / Psychosomatic / Psycho-oncology in Munich

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