Approaches to the treatment of illness using procedures other than those recommended by orthodox medical science; also known as complementary medicine. The demand for such treatment has increased in recent years, as individuals who have not been relieved of their complaints by orthodox methods have become more inclined to look elsewhere for treatment. There are many different approaches, and a recent publication on alternative medicine lists over 600 entries. Some of these procedures are based on theories of disease for which there is scanty evidence, and some invoke principles that most people would recognize as bizarre. The fact that many of these approaches are empirical in their origin is not in itself a fault, as many medical treatments now incorporated into orthodox medical practice began as empirical observations, and only later acquired scientific justification. In fact, many orthodox treatments remain unproven by rigorous scientific investigation. The problem is how to distinguish the genuinely effective from witchcraft and superstition. Hardly any of the therapeutic methods used as alternative medicine have been, or are readily capable of being, rigorously assessed, using the standard scientific techniques of critical assessment and refutation, or of comparison with the natural course of the ailment or with other remedies claimed to influence the ailment. At present, most of the claims for the success of alternative remedies remain anecdotal. However, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that some alternative therapies may be effective.
We're sorry this article wasn't helpful. Tell us how we can improve.