, Diet.com's Diet and Fitness News Reporter
by Brigitte Cutshall
There's an alternative for everything.
Alternative healthcare has gained in popularity over the past couple of decades. Why is this happening? I believe it's for two main reasons: people don't want to be passive about their health anymore and they can't afford the high healthcare costs in the U.S.
There are several terms out there that can be a little confusing ... alternative, complementary, integrative. Here's the difference:
• Alternative healthcare
is used instead of mainstream medical care. It's usually for pain and stress relief. The most common forms are chiropractic adjustments and massages.
• Complementary healthcare
is using alternative together with mainstream medical care. An example of this is using acupuncture to help with the side effects of traditional cancer treatment.
• Integrative healthcare
is when healthcare providers offer both - traditional and alternative - care in their facilities. You can see an acupuncturist in the same building as the oncologist.
Seeing a chiropractor is one of the more popular forms of alternative medicine that is paid for by many insurance policies. I have received regular chiropractic adjustments for the past 16 years. It all started after falling on ice that injured my shoulder. The standard treatment - prescription drugs and physical therapy for 6 weeks didn't help. My pain finally went away after getting adjusted for 3 weeks.
The thought of seeing a chiropractor seemed a little crazy at first only because I didn't know any better. I'm glad it was recommended to me. My experience has been positive and weekly adjustments still makes me feel better overall. Intrigued yet? Here are 5 reasons why you should consider and engage in alternative healthcare:
1. Be more involved with your health.
Doing so will actually take some burden off the doctors and healthcare system. This is in turn reduces healthcare costs and encourages you to focus more on prevention. Why do so many people worry which brand of TV to buy but not so much about what they eat? It's because we have a tendency to take our health for granted and results aren't immediate.
2.Don't accept being passive as "normal."
In conventional medicine, the patient is passive and waits for someone else to give them a solution. Everyone is different, our "normals" are even different. It's important that as patients, we are active participants in our health. It also gives you a sense of empowerment.
3.It can improve your performance.
Professional athletes use chiropractors to help with their performance. Okay, most of us aren't professional athletes, but we should treat our bodies with the same respect. Life is a marathon, right? How you take care of your body affects your overall daily performance, stamina and thinking ability. And that's just one simple example.
4.You get a different perspective.
I've always wondered why different cultures and countries have such drastic approaches to staying healthy and treating ailments compared to the West. This intrigues many people and is what actually got me interested in learning more about health. Many cultures focus more on prevention and mind-body approach based on thousands of years of practice. In the U.S. we don't. At the same time we shouldn't discount the benefits that society has received through recent medical research and medical advancements.
5.Focus on prevention.
The current medical system in the West seems to be based on puzzle pieces and trying to make things fit. We should remember to look at the whole body as a system and not just as "pieces." Incorporating a prevention mindset allows you to take a step back and look at the whole picture. A prevention approach is known to reduce chronic diseases and disease death rates. This is a very realistic goal. It's not as easy as it sounds but should be a priority.
We need to invest in our health. A common sense approach is prevention through alternative and integrative healthcare. This is where my passion lies. I'm interested to hear about your experiences with alternative healthcare. Be Well!
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