Sometimes we adapt treatment with complementary medicine without knowledge of their effectiveness. We fail to recognize the fact that complementary treatment is not for everyone, and that treatment should be individualized where each person should be carefully evaluated before initiating the procedure.
Complementary medicine are those unconventional techniques that are utilized together with the conventional method in treating diseases. While conventional medicine only cures the physical body, complementary medicine purports to be holistic and heal the whole body, including the mind and soul.
Just how effective are complementary techniques? We cannot just say that they are effective or ineffective without hard evidence. Here are some documented cases of their effectiveness and ineffectiveness.
According to the British Columbia (BC) Health Guide, an example of a complementary medicine is acupuncture.
“Acupuncture” when used to treat nausea and vomiting that accompanies chemotherapy or post-surgery pain, is a complementary therapy.” (BC Health Guide)
How effective is acupuncture?
1. Based on a study by Dr. Brian M Berman , et al:
“Participants in the true acupuncture group experienced greater improvement in WOMAC function scores than the sham acupuncture group at 8 weeks”
They have proven that acupuncture was able to ease pain when done as a complementary treatment for osteoarthritis. (http://www.annals.org/cgi/cont ent/abstract/141/12/901
2. Based on a study by Anna Enblom et al, on the relief of nausea caused by cancer treatment by acupuncture, which was presented in Barcelona at the European Cancer Conference (ECCO), the result showed there was no considerable relief of nausea in the cancer patients even when acupuncture was used. (http://www.news-medical.net/? id=30431)
Herbal medicine on the other hand is gaining popularity, but is there a conclusive way of ensuring that their production is within quality control guidelines? Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had established some guidelines, on-going researches are still being done to establish full proof evidence that this complementary medicine really works.
How effective is herbal medicine?
1. A recent research done by Gingko Evaluation of Memory (GEM) led by Dr. Steven Dekosky on the effect of Gingko biloba on patients with Alzheimer’s showed that there was no improvement of the patient who was given 120 mg extract of Gingko. (http://www.medicalnewstoday.c om/articles/129915.php)
2. In 1998, the German Commission E in Germany, which has the function of evaluating the efficacy of phytomedicines, published a book entitled: “Therapeutic Guide to Herbal medicine”. This was a well acclaimed book considered to be of utmost accuracy all over the world. They have conducted a controlled trial on billberry as a treatment for diabetes and found out that there were more toxic effects on prolonged usage, like hypertension and jaundice.
3. In another study of the golden seal’s effectiveness against diarrhea which was done in India, the study’s result showed positive results with 90 % of the patient getting well within 24 hours.
4. In an uncontrolled trial on milk thistle it was found out that silymarin, the major substance found in milk thistle had greatly prevented liver damage. The 4 post operative cholecystectomy patients who had received the silymarin had a reduced cholesterol level.
Based on the studies above, they demonstrate that herbs are not 100 % effective. There are more successful studies however that proved the effectiveness of the herbal medicine against diseases. What you should remember is to select the right herb, prepare the concoction properly and ingest the correct dosage to avoid detrimental side effects. Just like any other ingested substance, herbs could be dangerous when not used properly. Not everyone could use herbal medicine.
Complementary medicine is still being continuously researched on. The decision to use the intervention or not will depend upon your attending physician as he/she would have to consider if the conventional method concurrently used with it is in sync with the procedure .
Lawlis, Freeman, Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Research-Based Approach: Harcourt Health Sciences Company: 2001