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Alternative Forms of Health Care

When people think of health care in the United States, they often think of the traditional practices of the American Medical Association (AMA). Since its inception in the mid-nineteenth century, the AMA has been known for the use of hospitals, doctors, prescription drugs and surgery in the treatment of illnesses. However, in recent years, there have been increasing numbers of people turning to the use of alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, herbalism and mental healing. According to Altman (1990), since the 1970s, the United States has seen a "a ground swell of interest in alternative forms of health care" (p. 1). A study by the Harvard Medical School found that Americans made 425 millions visits to alternative practitioners in 1990, as opposed to only 388 million trips to traditional medical doctors (Randall, 1994, p. 14). One reason for this increased interest in alternative medicine is that traditional doctors fail to "listen or take complaints seriously;" furthermore, although traditional doctors are good at treating life-threatening illnesses and handling emergency situations, they are not as good as alternative practitioners at treating chronic diseases such as "allergies, pain and insomnia" (Randall, 1994, p. 14).

Most alternative methods are based on the concept of holistic medicine, which seeks to treat the person as a whole rather than focusing on certain parts of the body. Holistic medicine considers the person to be an integrated unit of body, mind, emotions and soul. In addition, the holistic perspective takes into account the fact that the environment plays an important role in the health and well-being of human beings (Grossman, 1985, p. 9). Holistic practices are also based on the idea that everyone has a life force which circulates through the body and keeps the person healthy. Whenever there is an obstruction to the flow of energy, the person becomes ill and diseased. A...

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Alternative Forms of Health Care. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:42, July 01, 2022, from