Alternative Therapist: History and Role in Modern Medicine Abstract Alternative medicine has increasingly gained popularity for the past 25 years and a lot of the credit for the revamp of this health system is due to the Alternative therapists that have been professionalizing their practice and placing standard for proper scientific evaluation…
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Keywords: CAM, Alternative therapy, Alternative therapists Alternative Therapist: History and Role in Modern Medicine Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is rapidly gaining popularity as an option for treatment of myriad diseases and disorders. Though these two terms (complementary and alternative medicine) have been lumped together in many texts and the practices in one, there is a slight difference in their definition. Complementary Medicine includes treatments and products which are not considered part of conventional medicine but used in conjunction with conventional medicine. Alternative Medicine, on the other hand consists of the practices and products that are used for healing instead of conventional medicine (Snyder et al., 2010). More and more people are turning from chemical medicines and standard medical procedures, and opting for practices like Ayurveda, naturopathy, homeopathy, and other forms of CAM. It is remarkable how fast CAM had progressed in terms of its acceptance in society, from being quack and unreliable to being the next best option in healthcare. Aside from the almost miraculous ways healing is achieved in CAM, one of the biggest factors that sets it apart from contemporary medicine are its practitioners - the Alternative therapists. Alternative therapists have existed long before CAM became popular for most procedures under CAM have been practiced for thousands of years. Alternative therapy is very broad and the National Center for Complementary/Alternative Medicine (NCCAM, 2008 as mentioned in Snyder 2010) defines it as …a large and diverse system...comprising all practices, and products that are not considered part of conventional medicine. In this sense, alternative therapists can come from different cultures and walks of life and they have many names like shamans, faith healers, chiropractors, nurses and even our own mothers. I. History of alternative therapists Alternative therapists were once the mainstream in healthcare and they were held with utmost regard by their society. Early civilizations turned to their priests or shamans in order to get the evil that causes their ailments to leave their bodies. These priests will then prescribe different herbal and nature derived concoctions that when accompanied with prayers and meditation will in their knowledge take the sickness away (Whorton, 2002). Ancient Egyptians, the Sumerians, and even the Incas practice this type of healing system (Banerjee, 2004). The records of the concoctions they gave and practices they employed to cure different illnesses are what inspired the rise of conventional medicine. With the help of the scientific method, the indigenous practices were refined and standardized to a point wherein these traditional medicines have been put aside and replaced with manufactured chemicals and the healers ousted by medical professionals with university-earned degrees (Bivins, 2007). In our time, the priests and shamans are equivalent to Alternative therapists and even today, there are still practicing priests and healers especially for the Native American people and people of Asia and in some parts of Europe. Some of the traditional methods of healing that are still practiced today include Hmong, Samoan, Somali, Mexican-American and Native American therapies (Snyder, 2010). About
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