In the last decade, the medical industry has seen a significant growth of complementary and alternative medicine. It is estimated that two out of three Australians have used a complementary or alternative medicine, (Andrew Bonney,2016). This can be attributed to their increased credibility, consumer desires for a more holistic approach to health, wanting to prevent sickness and disease and people wanting to feel more in control of their health due to other forms of western medicine not working.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) refer to all forms of health care that are used in addition or instead of western modern medical treatment. Examples of complementary medicine include physiotherapy, occupational and acupuncture. These treatments could be used in conjunction with a person being treated for leukemia, going through chemotherapy as it would help stimulate a healing response as well as dealing with nausea, post-operative pain including muscular and skeletal. Alternative medicine includes herbalism, naturopathy and acupuncture where the focus of healing lies solely on these medicines.
A main impact of increasing interest and use of complementary and alternative medicine is the increased credibility of the treatments. Physiotherapists and osteotherapists are mostly completing four to six year degrees in order to gain sufficient qualifications for their field of work. As well as registering with registration bodies who monitor and govern the things they can promote to their clients as well as extensive research being conducted behind some of complementary and alternative medicines, overall resulting in a wider acceptance from consumers of these treatments.
Australians are striving towards a more holistic approach to health. Meaning that the focus is being shifted from focusing on illness or certain parts of the body, this approach considers a person as a whole including mind, body and spirit. For example, a Western approach to a person experiencing stomach pains could include prescription drugs such as antibiotics, meaning that their immune system will further be weakened. However, a holistic approach would focus on strengthening one’s immune system by exercising regularly and including complementary and alternative medicines into daily life such as herbalism, which would restore the body’s natural defence mechanisms and yoga which would help maintain a healthy weight.
Prevention of illness and disease has played a significant role in the growth of complementary and alternative medicine as some have been promoted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) a reliable source that provides thorough research, which people all around the world can trust. The endorsement from WHO of acupuncture and some herbal medicines has helped to give consumers a piece of mind as they know it is a safe alternative to use. For example, acupuncture can be used as a preventative measure for a person experiencing back pain. This will help with alignment and will prevent bulging and herniated or ruptured disks in the back
Finally, Australians may feel they have no control over their health due to their current treatments not working. Therefore, through the use of complementary and alternative medicine, a person can choose when and what alternative medicine or treatment they want to use rather than being assigned to Western drugs. For example instead of being prescribed depression and anxiety medication from a doctor, treating it more alternatively through the use of acupuncture to calm and release tension.
Overall the main contributing factors to the growth of complementary and alternative medicine include the increased credibility, Australians desire for a more holistic approach, the movement towards prevention and people wanting to feel in control of their health.