The advantages of alternative medicine depend on the type of medicine being applied and the specific problem involved. Alternative medicine is often highly effective for problems like general fatigue or pain, but it is usually not very effective for serious problems like cancer or HIV. This is because the alternative treatments used for serious disorders would not be alternatives if they were known to be effective. In some ways, the advantages of alternative medicine depend on perspective and results, as people may believe different treatments to be effective.
Advantages of alternative medicine often include reduced risks, particularly when the medicine is for minor ailments. For example, herbal remedies for sore throats or minor colds can be very effective. These remedies have the advantage of fewer risks for patients, although conventional medicine is almost always well tested and very safe.
For many people, the advantages of alternative medicine include drawing on the wisdom of non-Western traditions. Treatments like acupuncture or Native American medicines can provide an alternative to traditional medicine, but these are not always effective for serious disorders. One of the advantages, however, is that these treatments can be used in combination with traditional medicine, creating a tailored treatment plan for the individual. This type of treatment is often called complementary medicine rather than alternative medicine.
Alternative medicine can be highly effective for generic problems like pain, stress, or fatigue. In some cases, improvements to a person's health may be almost entirely due to the placebo Effect, but either way the person tends to feel better. Many types of alternative medicine include mental aspects as well as physical processes, which can be good for disorders that are related to a person's moods.
Each type of alternative medicine must be evaluated individually for its advantages, as different types act in different ways. One great way to determine the advantages of a particular alternative treatment is to look at reputable reviews of the product or service. Another way is to contact people who have used the product or service. In some areas, alternative treatments are not highly regulated and consumers must use caution.
One of the most important things to consider when determining the advantages of alternative medicine is whether the alternative medicine is safe. Even though this type of medicine is often thought to be natural, it is not necessarily safe or recommended for human consumption. For example, silver is often consumed as part of alternative medicine, but this can be highly harmful to humans over time. Determining whether any advantages are canceled out by possible health risks is very important.