Alternative Medicine History

We would all like to live healthier lives, but often medical and wellness information is either difficult to come by or confusing. Alternative medicine applies to all facets of health, whether it is urological, dental, orthopedic, or any other bodily function. With so many people writing about alternative medicine it is difficult to known what is true and what is error or distortions of truth and in many cases we just have not come to the full truth of an issue. The science of health is rather new in terms of actually working out the mechanism of how these treatments work. As a result, the information is eternally evolving and being clarified.

For example, we have known for thousands of years that many herbs and plant extracts are healthy and can prevent disease, but until recently we didn’t know the biological effects of these medicinal compounds. Over the past 30 years there has been an explosion of research demonstrating the mechanism of action of plant extracts and herbs, even down to specific cell signaling effects of these compounds. Unfortunately, the medical profession is far behind the times and is mostly unaware of these important discoveries.

On this website I will share with you many of these discoveries and guide you through how to utilize this knowledge to protect yourself and your loved ones from an ever rising sea of diseases and disorders afflicting our society. I thank you for your interest in this most important endeavor. But first, let’s take a quick look at the history.

The Beginnings of Alternative Medicine

Connected to a variety of different cultures, alternative medicine indeed has a very interesting history. Frankly speaking, it is impossible to pinpoint exactly when and where alternative medicine truly originated. This is primarily due to the fact that the practices which were under the term regarded as conventional medical practices during that time. However, if we trace the various forms of what is now alternative healing by going back in history, we will find that they go back at least 5000 years, which can indeed be regarded as very, very old!

History of Eastern Alternative Medicine

The oldest recorded practice of alternative medicine remains in the ancient Chinese civilization. Much like the way alternative medicine is being used today, the ancient Chinese too used them on the basis of their ability to heal the body and keep it and the spirit balanced. Buddhist and Taoist principles form a large portion of the philosophical basis of Chinese Medicine. According to this belief, an individual and their environs are closely linked together. The popular “Yin and Yang” theory, which comes from Chinese Medicine is very integral to this practice.

The theory of Yin & Yang explains the importance of opposing forces to one another and elaborates how balance within the body is dependent on the balance between these two. When Yin and Yang are unbalanced, it leads to serious diseases. According to Chinese Medicine, this balance can be restored (and diseases can be thwarted) with the help of methods like acupuncture, herbal medicine, movement and breathing techniques (such as Qigong and Tai Chi) and through good diet. Practitioners in this area observed the health and lifestyle of the patients to find out if their Qi (pronounced Chi) i.e. their “force of life” was out-of-balance, and then used different methods to get the patient restored to their healthy selves. Even if today’s modern world, Chinese Traditional Medicine is often used in clinics and hospitals alongside modern medicine.

India too has a rich history when it comes to alternative medicine. Going as far back as 6000 years, alternative medicinal practices in India too are closely linked with Buddhism. Ayurveda, which is a very popular practice in India even today, has its origin in two Sanskrit words: “Ayu” (life), and “Veda” (the knowledge of). An established system of medicine in its own right, Ayurveda aims to keep good health by keeping a person’s mind, spirit and body in tune with their surrounding nature.

Alternative Medicine in the West

The first use of such Medicine in the West goes back to around 3000 years. The ancient Greek, who were highly influenced by Babylonians and somewhat so by China and India introduced the practice of herbal healing in the West. Practices like hydrotherapy were extremely popular with the Greeks and the Romans. Hippocrates, popularly called “father-of-medicine,” was a Greek physician who was known to practice herbal medicine. In the Middle Ages, the European monks began to study medicinal plants and later even started growing them. They even translated several works on the topic from languages such as Arabic. Folk healers too began to pass knowledge from one generation to another by word-of-mouth.

Upon arriving and settling in America, the Europeans found out that Native Americans had great knowledge about the healing capacity of indigenous herbs. Similarly, the Australian aborigines had a strong understanding of the plants which were found in their environs and knew how they could be used in medicine. With the coming in of the 19th Century – and before the development of Western Medicine the way we know it today-, medical practitioners acted like the “naturopaths” of today’s world. After taking in an in-detail medical history and observing their lifestyle, they would proceed to suggest the ways in which they can improve their health through dietary and environmental changes. They were also known to prescribe different kinds of herbal remedies.

Mold Changes Popularity of Alternative Medicine

The use of various alternative medicine forms declined considerably in number in the 20th Century. This was primarily due to the increasing development in modern medicinal practices, which led to a more hospital-based clinical approach of treating the sick and a much wide-based use of pharmaceutical-grade drugs to treat diseases. Finally, the discovery of the “wonder-mold” Penicillin and its subsequent development into a life-saving drug, which could thwart bacterial infections with much more effectiveness in the 1940’s, totally changed the way modern health care was perceived. Alternative medicinal practices totally lost their ground.

While many Doctors abandoned what they called “outdated” treatments like herbalism and homeopathy, among others, several patients continued to seek them out. A large number these were those for whom normal medicine did not seem to work.

Alternative Medicine Today

In today’s day and age, the alternative medicine usage is once again on the increase. Different alternative medical practices like herbal medicine, acupuncture, healing as well as aromatherapy, are being kept alive by hard-working practitioners who are specialists in one or more of these kinds of treatments. A new development in this regard is the use of alternatives with modern clinical treatments. This development has led to alternative medicine being renamed as complementary medicine.

From the aforementioned brief history, it is clear that many alternative medicine practices that are being used today have in fact been with mankind for millennia. And with the burgeoning popularity of the alternative medicine used in dealing with health problems today, it can definitively be said that said practices will stay for years to come.

Complementary and Alternative Treatments in Urology

For those accustomed to modern medicine, it is difficult to put alternative medicine and urology in the same sentence. However, there has been a growing interest in the use of alternative and complementary medicine in treating several diseases, and the trend is witnessed even in Western nations. For instance, more than 30 percent of patients in the U.S use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and they spend over $50 billion per year. The most common providers of alternative treatments include chiropractors, acupuncturists, and herbalists.

Patients Who Use CAM

A survey done in the U.S found that CAM was popular among younger patients with higher income levels and education compared to uneducated people with lower income. In the UK, organizations that educate medical practitioners and the public on CAM have been established. In addition, the UK parliament in 2002 published a comprehensive report on the use of CAM, areas of future research, and the training of healthcare professionals on the regulations and guidelines to be followed.

In the U.S, the NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) has categorized CAM into five key domains. The domains include:

1. Mind-body treatments; these include mental healing, prayer and meditation;

2. Alternative medical approaches, such as Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, and homeopathy;

3. Biological therapies, for example, the use of special diets and herbs, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins;

4. Body manipulation methods, such as massage and chiropractic therapy; and

5. Energy-based therapies, such as therapeutic touch and Reiki, Qui gong, and bio-field therapies.

Biological therapies are the most relevant to urology because they provide provisions and products that are increasingly being used to treat simple urological conditions.

CAM Treatments for Prostate Disorders

CAM treatment for prostate cancer entails the use of diet, fruits, vegetables and observing general nutritional guidelines. Several studies have shown that adopting a diet with low calories, low amounts of saturated fat, but contains lots of phytoestrogen, high amounts of isoflavones (found in green tea and soy products), and fruit and vegetables reduces the chances of developing prostate disorders. Moreover, the diet improves the prognosis of prostate disorders and prostate cancer in patients suffering from the conditions.

Researchers have noted that the type of diet and lifestyle habits in Western and Asian countries might explain the low prevalence of prostate cancer in these populations. Approximately 30 to 75 percent of patients suffering from cancer globally use CAM therapies that include biological, herbal, and dietary based approaches. About 60 percent of people with prostate cancer also utilize the aforementioned CAM treatments in treating their condition.

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Complementary-Alternative-Medicine-Prostate-Urologic

The use of CAM in Treating Erectile Dysfunction

The use of CAM in treating ED has not shown higher success rates compared to clinical trials that have used placebos and chemical drugs. Some of the CAM products used to treat ED include zinc supplements, acupuncture, gingko extracts, red ginseng products, and yohimbine among others. However, the use of these herbal products has not proven to be superior over placebos.

The Use of CAM Therapy in Treating Urinary Tract Infections

In alternative medicine and urology, cranberry juice is the most commonly used in treating urinary tract infections because the juice can prevent bacteria from adhering to thin inner walls of the bladder. Clinical trials at nccih.nih.gov and newriverurology.com and have demonstrated that cranberry juice is effective in treating urinary tract infections in women compared to placebos. Furthermore, cranberry reduces the risk of developing urinary tract infection symptoms in women who have been sexually active in the last six months. However, studies have shown that the use of cranberry juice can lower the absorption rate of antibiotics used to treat urinary tract infections. Moreover, excessive consumption of cranberry juice can lead to gastrointestinal problems and diarrhea.

Red Wine and the Risk of Prostate Cancer

alternative urology red wineEarlier studies have shown that a strong relationship between intake of alcohol and certain cancers such as prostate, lung and rectal cancer exists. However, red wine prostate cancer study done recently have shown that consuming red wine may lower the risk of developing prostate cancer. One study compared the history of alcohol intake of 753 men between the ages of 40 and 64 years with prostate cancer, and a similar number of men without the disease. The findings indicated that the risk of developing prostate cancer in the group that consumed red wine dropped by 24 percent. Another earlier study done in Australia indicated that women who consumed one or several glasses of wine on a daily basis reduced their chances of developing ovarian cancer by 40 percent.

Conclusion

The use of CAM in treating different medical conditions is becoming popular across the globe, especially in Western nations. Complementary and alternative medicines include a variety of therapies. Some of the therapies under the approach are complete treatments on their own, while others are used to enhance modern medicine. Nevertheless, more studies are needed to establish the efficacy of CAM in treating urological conditions and other diseases.