Alternative Therapies Pros and Cons

By Val Silver

Incorporating alternative therapies into your wellness plan can offer very significant benefits for improving and maintaining your physical and mental well-being. Alternative complementary medicine is not a panacea, however, and there is the potential for negative results.

The disadvantages of alternative therapy are often not so much with the methods themselves, but rather with expectations and follow through. It is important to know which methods are specifically useful for your condition and how they are best used to achieve your desired results. Otherwise, results will be disappointing at best.

alternative therapies, acupuncture

 7 potential disadvantages of alternative therapy:

  • Because alternative therapies are sometimes touted as 'one minute wonders', expectations for fast results can be inflated. Although miracles do happen, in most cases complementary alternative medicine does not heal instantly. Some medicinal herbs or supplements take weeks before you notice improvement. It may take several sessions for body work, acupuncture, or energy healing to bring about deeper, lasting effects. If you are not mindful of this from the beginning, it is tempting to get discouraged, become inconsistent, or move on to something else, especially when paying out of pocket.
  • Some people attempt to treat serious illness and injuries with only alternative therapies when conventional medicine would be best for primary care. By the time they realize this, weeks and months go by and it could be too late. In the case of some infections, days can be too long. It is best to explore all your options, get educated opinions and second opinions. Then make decisions that are right for you. You can always complement your medical care with alternative and holistic healing modalities if you wish. If your doctor does not support this decision, find one that will or get support from a wellness coach.
  • Approaching holistic and complementary medicine with the modern medicine mindset is a common mistake. Alternative medicine is not about popping pills, suppressing symptoms (although sometimes that is part of it), treating a body part, and entrusting your health care to someone else. Addressing only physical imbalances without addressing issues of the mind and spirit only bring about partial benefits at best. To get the most out of alternative therapies (or conventional medicine), following a holistic approach is usually best.
  • Although complementary alternative therapies can be very effective, it is also true that others simply do not work at all, or at least not for your needs. As with medical treatments, your belief in the power of the remedy may heal you, but not the intervention itself. Natural remedies may even be harmful. They may interact with medications or be contra-indicated for your condition. They may offer no help and waste valuable time while you get sicker.
  • In order to realize the full benefits of alternative medicine, you must commit your  time, energy, and often your finances to getting well. You will most likely have to change some of your lifestyle habits, which can be challenging, even with the best of intentions.  It often takes a very serious illness to get people to make a shift, and even that is not always enough incentive.
  • Alternative techniques and remedies only help you if they are appropriate for your needs. This is not to suggest that stringent studies are required to prove effectiveness. To use alternatives as a primary treatment for your health condition, be sure there is plenty of anecdotal evidence showing effectiveness for your specific condition. Discover which will best serve you in a primary role and which need to take a secondary role.  Learn how to use the techniques properly. Get help from a skilled practitioner if you need it. And use common sense.
  • Sometimes complementary methods are promoted as quick, easy and do-it-yourself. And they very well might be. But claims like that make it easy to wrongly assume that skill or commitment to the process is not required. Then results may be disappointing or even negative. For example, many people apply emotional release techniques to themselves with a measure of success. But if you have mental health issues or have been severely traumatized, you can have an abreaction if working on yourself or with an inexperienced practitioner.  

Continue reading about the pros of alternative health care.

Choice: Alternative Therapies or Conventional Medicine

Always familiarize yourself with conventional and alternative options when making important decisions about your health. See if and how either or both of these health care systems can best help you. Familiarize yourself with the general pros and cons of conventional medicine and complementary modalities in general, as well as how they specifically relate to you and your wellness concerns.

Alternative therapies play an important part in holistic health and healing. Some alternatives shine in a primary role, and others are superstars in supporting roles. When using them, always educate yourself about best uses and proper use. This can make all the difference between you having a positive experience or not.

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For Educational Purposes Only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult with your health provider before using natural remedies and/or complementary therapies if you are pregnant, nursing, or you are being treated for a medical condition. Be aware that certain herbs and supplements interact with medications.

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