The study itself isn’t so earth-shattering, especially to holistic and biological health professionals; but what one of its authors had to say about it – we think it’s worth a look.
For their paper, the researchers mapped the use of “alternative medicine…by MS patients” to see how individuals individuals incorporate unorthodox practices and procedures into their long-term care. Nearly 4000 Scandinavians took part in the questionnaire-based study.
“What we see,” said lead author Lasse Skovgaard, “is that patients do not usually use alternative treatments for treating symptoms, but as a preventative and strengthening element.”
Of course, with conventional medicine set as the norm, this is to be expected. That model positions “alternative” as an adjunct by definition and lumps together every kind of non-orthodox practice, from acupuncture to prayer. Nor are all of them necessarily oriented toward treating symptoms, even those with clinical and scientific support. With respect to biological dentistry and medicine, for instance, the goal is to treat the cause and support the body’s innate ability to self-regulate and heal. (Learn more about this approach.)
But back to Skovgaard, who makes a couple of important points in media about the study. For one:
Some critics are of the opinion that when alternative treatments are so popular, it is because they appeal to naïve people looking for a miraculous cure. But our results indicate that it is primarily the well-educated segment that is subscribing to alternative treatments. And that using alternative treatments is part of a lifestyle choice.
We see this among our own patients, as well. Many would tell you of their lost faith in the “health care” establishment. Being highly educated or of an intellectual nature, they did their own research, asked questions, weighed options and became their own advocates, choosing a paradigm of healing that made more sense to them than the simplistic, symptom-focused approach of “managed illness.”
Their embrace of a holistic, biological systems-based approach to their health is an overwhelmingly informed decision.
In any case, says Skovgaard, we simply
cannot ignore the fact that people with chronic disease use alternative treatments to a considerable extent, and that many of them seem to benefit from doing so. It doesn’t help to only judge this from a medical point of view or say that alternative treatments are nonsense – rather, we must try to understand it.
Unfortunately, it’s so much easier to wag a finger and dismiss than to explore, at minimum, why so many are seeking an “alternative” to orthodoxy and the benefits they perceive.
Get the abstract of Skovgaard’s study (Scandinavian Journal of Public Health)
Image by mbtphoto, via Flickr