The Dangers Of Alternative Therapies

Choosing an alternative therapy to treat a serious illness can delay the start of effective treatment and decrease the chances of survival.

Alternative Or Complementary Therapies?

Within the so-called alternative therapies, there are a large number of techniques and procedures that increasingly have more followers. In many cases, the qualifiers “alternative” and “complementary” are used interchangeably. However, they are completely different concepts according to their use. If an alternative practice is used together with conventional medicine, it is considered complementary and, if it is used instead of the traditional one, it is called alternative. Most users combine non-conventional methods as an aid to Western medicine.

One of the objectives of our health-related government body that belongs to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is to provide evidence on alternative health approaches, to determine what help and why what does not work and what is safe. It classifies them into three large groups:

Comprehensive systems, which include Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, and naturopathy.

Natural therapies, which include a variety of products such as plants, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics, often sold as dietary supplements.

Mind and body practices, which incorporate a diverse group of procedures or techniques administered or taught by a trained practitioner or teacher, such as yoga, chiropractic, osteopathy or meditation. In this group, there are also relaxation techniques, tai chi, qi gong, reiki, hypnotherapy and different movement therapies, such as the Feldenkrais method, the structural integration of Rolfing and the psychophysical integration of Trager.

Risks Of Complementary And Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies, including those based on the use of plants, can cause undesirable side effects

All treatments should begin, even conventional ones can have risks. However, when it comes to therapies without any scientific proof of their efficacy, as in the case of complementary or alternative therapies, the danger increases exponentially.

This type of therapy – even those based on the use of plants, natural products or “dietary” supplements – is not without side effects and interactions if combined with conventional drugs.

Faced with a disease, especially if they are severe cases for the life of the person, like cancer, there is the danger of opposing or postpone a treatment that has been proven scientifically effective and creates a false sense of security. Recent research published in JAMA Oncology indicates that the greater number of complementary therapies used by women diagnosed with breast cancer, the more likely they are to reject chemotherapy. And also points out that the longer the start of this treatment is extended, the fewer chances of healing.

We must remember that some alternative therapists propose to abandon traditional medicine with the promise that their procedure or technique is more effective to treat the disease in question.

Beware Of Alternative Therapies To Treat Cancer

From the Spanish Association Against Cancer warn that we must be very careful with alternative and complementary therapies. They advise that it is essential to be well informed about the scientific data on the effectiveness of the treatment and the risk involved. And, although there is a considerable amount of scientific information that indicates that some complementary methods could help control some symptoms of cancer and the side effects of chemotherapy, scientific studies are limited. Nor are there reliable data that show that any alternative method can cure or stop cancer and even prevent it.

Thank is why, it is vital not to replace conventional medical treatment or delay it and, if any product is being taken or is expected to be used, always consult with the doctor or the reference specialist. They also insist on the need to be very conscientious when choosing the professional in charge of applying the chosen technique.