Western Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine


Medicine has been around for 60,000 years. Over the course of those centuries, we have been able to improve our different kinds of medicine to make them more effective. 

With all of the different types of medicine available to us, it frequently comes down to what we think is best. There are a number of different types of medicine we can choose from, but the most popular are Western and alternative medicine. It is important to understand the benefits and risks of each one to make an informed decision.

“Alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. Alternative medicine refers to therapeutic approaches taken in place of traditional medicine and used to treat or ameliorate disease,” says Dr. Syed Amin Tabish. “Conventional medicine relies on methods proved to be safe and effective with carefully designed trials and research.”

There are three things you should consider when picking which route to take in terms of medicine: First, how accessible is each treatment to you? Second, how does your body react to each one? Lastly, do you feel more comfortable with scientifically proven or more natural medications? 

How accessible is the medication?

Depending on where you are in the world or even the United States, medication can vary in cost. Your insurance also can play a huge role in how much medication will cost. It’s a smart idea to have insurance that aligns with your needs. 

With alternative medication depending on where you live and what the climate is like, you might be able to grow the necessary herbs straight from your garden. For example, if you live in a colder climate, you will not be able to grow herbs like rosemary, which is used for headaches and indigestion. But if you are undergoing therapy for your treatment, it can get pretty pricy. According to Nicholas Bakalar at the New York Times, “Families with incomes less than $25,000 spent an average of $435 a year on alternative care, and those with incomes exceeding $100,000 averaged $590.” Popular Western medication, on the other hand, can range from $12.41 to $97.57 a month. 

Where you can receive your medication is another important part of accessibility. Some cancer centers where you can receive chemotherapy are spread out and may take a long period of time to get there. For alternative medications, there are some herbs that may be difficult to purchase in your area, and certain therapies might not be available. For Western medication, some prescriptions may not be offered in your area. When choosing a medication, have a clear understanding of how you will be able to receive your treatment before choosing between Western or alternative medication. 

How does your body react to the medicine?

Everybody is unique in the fact that your body might react differently from someone else when taking the same medication. Someone’s size and underlying conditions can affect how their body will absorb the medicine. Other things to consider are how various medical approaches may change your mood, affect your weight, make you drowsy, or give you an upset stomach when taking them.

How you are able to live your day-to-day life is important, so make sure to consider medicines that are going to be the most effective and leave you feeling the best. 

Scientifically proven or natural?

Western medicine goes through various tests to make sure the treatment is not only effective but safe as well. According to Josefin Dolsten, medication is tested on non-humans and then goes through the FDA before they get tested on humans.  

Meanwhile, alternative medicine has been around for centuries in many forms, so you might think, “60,000 years of practitioners can’t be wrong.” However, exercise caution. “Many complementary and alternative treatments lack solid research on which to base sound decisions. The dangers and possible benefits of many complementary and alternative treatments remain unproved,” says Dr. Tabish. “Many complementary and alternative treatments lack solid research on which to base sound decisions. The dangers and possible benefits of many complementary and alternative treatments remain unproved.”

When it comes to picking Western or alternative medication, the decision comes down to which aligns best with your needs. Sometimes, you might need to do the Western medication. Other times, alternative medication will work better for you. There might even come a time when you can compromise and do a little bit of both to get the best results. 

A version of this article was published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.


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