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What is the most important thing in life? Money? Despite what many think, no, that is not it. Some still might disagree but what many people view as the most essential element needed in our lives is in fact — our health! However with the cost of modern healthcare seemingly skyrocketing throughout the years, people are looking for options — something alternative or complementary. But questions still remain whether they are indeed valid substitutes.

Complementary Medicine in the Modern World

According to Dr. Faridah Abdul Rashid, a medical school professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), alternative medicine in a nutshell can be described as: “any medication or treatment that is not offered by government hospitals.” But she does however stress that the field actually consists of a much more extensive definition. “It is made up of a wide range of health care practices, products, and therapies. They can include traditional medicine from many cultures around the world. Some have been around for hundreds of years.”

Dr. Faridah reveals that hospitals in certain countries such as Singapore have begun opening their door towards alternative medicine. “There is also an on-going effort by our own government right now to do same, especially for traditional Chinese medicine,” she says. “In fact there a few hospitals in the country that already have acupuncture centres. They are still are a rarity though as the staff need to be properly trained and standards have to be met.”

The debate has been ongoing for quite some time on where alternative medicine fits into our healthcare system. Some doctors remain sceptical, but more and more physicians have embraced the need for more research. However, two prominent scientists in the US are now calling for an end to all clinical trials on some forms of alternative medicine.

Two doctors, David Gorski a cancer surgeon at Wayne State University School of Medicine and Steven Novella a neurologist at Yale University, published an article that appeared last week in the Cell Press journal ‘Trends in Molecular Medicine’. The thrust of their argument is that over the past twenty years, proponents of complementary alternative medicine (CAM) have called for more research into these therapies so we can finally settle once and for all whether they work or not.

The two doctors are saying ‘Enough is enough.’ They say that in an era of cutbacks in government funding, research into some forms of alternative medicine is a waste of money. The doctors has zeroed in mostly on homeopathy and a few other practices that are popular but unproven scientifically .

Dr. Faridah doesn’t necessarily agree. In fact in terms of risks, some alternative medicine is much safer compared to western medicine. “These modern medicines sometimes leave lasting scars and pains for example. Some alternative treatments do not.”

Treatments such as cupping for example are just as good as modern techniques. “Not only is cupping part ‘sunnah’ but is a recognised treatment just like how blood transfusions are recognised,” says Dr. Faridah.

“Sometimes doctors do not follow and have little knowledge on alternative medicines. That’s why we teach our students at USM to acquire as much knowledge as possible on the variety of alternative medicine,” she says, before continuing: “However for patients seeking alternative therapies, I would advise them to ensure that the place and staff performing these therapies are well-trained, and the practices are recognised by the Health Ministry.”


Source : Malaysian Digest

Complementary Medicine In The Modern World?
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