Alternative medicine is used in the place of conventional medicine and, according to its advocates, there is no limit to the uses of alternative medicine. More and more people are turning to alternative and complementary medicine as they consider natural therapies better than the synthetic products used by conventional medicine. The most common alternative health medicines are the use of natural products such as fish oil, echinacea, ginseng, ginkgo biloba and flax seed and the more common therapies include biofeedback, chiropractic, energy healing or reiki, hypnosis and massage.
People use alternative medicine for an array of diseases and conditions ranging from musculoskeletal problems, head and chest colds, arthritis, anxiety and depression, headaches and migraines, and insomnia. For back and neck problems, the alternative therapies most used tend to be chiropractic and massage. Anxiety and depression are more commonly treated by relaxation and spiritual healing while those suffering from insomnia usually seek treatments incorporating herbal medicine as well as relaxation. Sufferers of arthritis and headaches resort to relaxation techniques and chiropractors. The uses of alternative medicine include the treatment of chronic disease and the focus is on the prevention or treatment of the causes of the disorders rather than a treatment of the symptoms of the condition
Surveys have shown that the most popular alternative medicine therapies are relaxation techniques such as meditation, herbal medicine, massage and chiropractic. The uses of the alternative medicine therapies increased over all ages and backgrounds but are more likely to be used by women with higher levels of education and income. They were more likely to seek alternative therapies not because they perceived any problem with conventional medicine as such but because the health care offered by alternative medicine is more in tune with their philosophical orientations.
Complementary medicine is used in conjunction with conventional medicine and the combination of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is rapidly increasing in popularity. Integrative medicine combining CAM and conventional medicine has been proven to be both safe and effective and, while there is scientific evidence regarding the efficacy of some CAM therapies, there is caution of the behalf of many health authorities in the Western world as to the effectiveness of all therapies. Eastern medicine, on the other hand, has always been based on alternative medicine. Many of the different uses of alternative medicine, however, have been integrated into mainstream medicine. Massage, for example, has been widely accepted as one of the uses of alternative medicine most effective in the treatment of pain and has been included in many tertiary care settings.