Millions of people around the world use alternative medicine every day, and for good reason- it often works. But what is alternative medicine, exactly? And why does it work for some people but not others? In this article, we’ll take a look at the science behind alternative medicine and try to answer these questions.

Reasons for Using Alternative Medicine

For many people, it’s the only thing that works when everything else fails. Their belief in its efficacy can have an effect, which is basically the placebo effect. Other times, it’s the last resort before trying something with severe side effects. After all, it’s often a low-risk gamble—they will either be OK or nothing will happen. Sometimes, people just don’t trust Western medicine. In fact, many patients like it because they feel powerless at the hands of doctors. With alternative medicine, they feel like they have freedom and control over what they do or take. It may also be more in line with their worldview and their principles.

Popular Alternative Treatments

Let’s take a look at some popular alternative treatments, their efficacy, and what the science says.


Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been used for centuries to treat pain. The practice involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body.

Some studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective in treating pain immediately, but the evidence is not conclusive.

Acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed by a trained professional. However, there are some risks associated with the procedure, such as puncturing the skin or organs, contracting infections, and experiencing dizziness or fainting.


Acupressure is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that uses pressure instead of needles to stimulate specific points on the body. Like acupuncture, there is some evidence that acupressure can be effective in treating pain. However, the evidence is not conclusive

Acupressure requires training, and if done by a trained professional, it is generally considered safe. There is also lesser risk, since the most you can get after a session is some light bruising and lightheadedness.


Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care involves diagnosing and treating any problems related to muscles and the skeleton. Chiropractors use a variety of techniques to manipulate the spine and other joints in an attempt to relieve pain and improve function.

There is some evidence to suggest that chiropractic care can be effective in treating certain types of pain, but the evidence is not conclusive. Chiropractic care is generally considered safe when performed by a trained professional. However, there are some risks associated with the procedure, such as minor dizziness and weakness, up to spinal manipulation leading to stroke or paralysis.

Ayurvedic Treatment

Ayurveda is a system of traditional medicine from India, and its name is derived from the Sanskrit words for “life” and “knowledge” (which are “ayur” and “veda” respectively). Ayurveda thus means “knowledge of life” and has been in practice for 3,000 years. Most popular Ayurveda treatments focus on digestion and metabolism.

Some studies suggest specific Ayurveda treatments can help people with osteoarthritis and type 2 diabetes, but the studies are not well-designed (and thus, not credible). It’s also important to note that because Ayurveda is a system of treatment, there are different specific Ayurveda treatments for different problems and different people.

Currently, there is no license or national standard for Ayurveda treatment providers. The FDA does not review products for Ayurveda, and it has warned that some of them may have toxic chemicals like lead and mercury.


Homeopathy is a type of alternative medicine that uses very small amounts of natural substances to treat health problems. It was developed in the late 1700s by a German doctor named Samuel Hahnemann. Hahnemann believed that the best way to treat illnesses was to give patients tiny doses of substances that would cause the same symptoms as the illness itself. He called this principle “homeopathy” which comes from the Greek words “homoios” meaning “similar” and “pathos” meaning “suffering.” Even though this was named in the 1700s, this practice can be traced back to antiquity, from when the King Mithridates IV Eupator ingested micro doses of poison to develop an immunity to them. Another term for Mithridates’ practice is Mithridatism, which was adopted by other monarchs and emperors.

Homeopathy was initially met with skepticism, but it soon became popular in Europe. Today, homeopathy is used all over the world, and there is some evidence to suggest that it can be effective in treating certain health conditions. However, most of the evidence is not conclusive. Additionally, because homeopathy relies on very small and diluted doses of natural substances, it is generally considered safe when used correctly.

Some people say it works, but there is no good scientific evidence to support this. In contrast, scientific research points to its numerous direct and indirect effects, such as allergic reactions, intoxication, and poisoning.

Final Thoughts

Alternative medicine has risks associated with each of them that should be considered before deciding if they are right for you. It is also important to remember that just because a treatment is “natural” does not mean it is automatically safe. Before trying any type of alternative medicine, be sure to speak with your doctor and do your own research on the potential risks and benefits.

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