The Basics 2 (Part 2): Take Care And...Beware..

People want to be and stay healthy, but global healthcare costs are soaring. 

This has created a staggering number of people desperately seeking low-cost alternative treatment options. Alternative medicine has generated controversy in many medical academic circles. 

practicalowl / Foter / CC BY-NC
For some people, the very word "alternative" conjures up images of risky, unproven experimental treatments that are potentially hazardous to the general public. The most common methods of alternative or complementary therapies include herbs, supplements, and fringe therapies found outside of conventional medical applications.

Unusual concoctions come with the territory of "alternative treatments".

However, some alternative methods unintentionally raise questions regarding their safety and effectiveness.

Homeopathic techniques like acupressure, herbal tea methods, meditation, plant extract therapies and Ayurveda are sworn by their devotees for their effectiveness. Most medical professionals believe these treatments are ineffective or even dangerous. Complementary treatment options are becoming more common as our rapidly aging global population deals with the gradual onset of aches and pains. Many times, patients that haven't been cured with mainstream medical treatments turn to natural methodologies to treat their illnesses.

My regular readers already know that I'm a proponent of natural or complementary treatments options to resolve a lot of maladies. There are, however, risks associated with untested alternative or complementary treatment options.

Health risks CAN greatly increase as a result of using some of these potentially unsafe alternative treatments. Charlatans are a constant part of any industry. The challenge for the consumer is to detect which products are both safe and effective. I've identified a few key strategies currently being used by unscrupulous marketers to leverage the sales of their products:

  • To make sales, dishonest purveyors typically overstate their product's effectiveness. 
  • Another commonly used disingenuous technique is intentional misrepresentation of the science attached to the product. This, of course, is meant to convince shoppers to buy the product, even if may endanger their health.
  • Positive testimonial statements are always convincing and can sway a buyer, but only if the statement is true.
  • False or borrowed statements pose a potential danger to the buyer who is more than likely unaware of the risks associated with the product. 

Some herbal remedies are advertised as being able to improve stamina, increase vitality, or even cure various terminal illnesses. There actually are natural remedies that have some of those capabilities. However, unproven "remedies" may cause harm if consumed by some people.
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Another possible risk is that someone diagnosed with a serious disease or cancer refuses use more effective, proven methods for treatment for fear of not being cured. In this case, an individual is almost certainly gambling with their life. If your doctor is not advised of the alternative treatments you're undergoing, any prescribed medications you're taking may have harmful interactions with the herbs.

It's a shame that you have to play detective in order to separate proven alternative therapies from the ineffective ones. As the saying goes "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". I've put together a short check list that should help you weed out the hucksters:

  • Practitioners like acupuncturists and reflexologists always should be licensed and well qualified before initiating any treatments. 
  • Feel free to ask questions about the training your potential complementary practitioner may have received.
  • Be careful of any product labeled 'powerful' or 'instantaneous' 
  • Do your homework about any product to make sure it's been completely tested and proven effective.
  • Use common sense. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably isn't true. 
Alternative therapies and natural remedies are always a great option to maximize your health, but it's also NEVER a bad idea to ask yourself if the "cure" actually makes any sense. 

So I'm stepping off my soapbox and handing the microphone over to you. 

Let us know what you think. Leave a comment or two below with your name and we'll have a chat!


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