Standard care is what is provided at your doctors’ office or a hospital by trained Allied Health medical professionals like Registered Nurses and Medical Doctors. Complementary and alternative medicines are terms used to describe medical products and treatments that are not considered a part of standard care practices.
Some forms of these non-standard practices that you may be familiar with are Chiropractic Medicine, acupuncture, herbal medicines and other “natural” remedies for different ailments. The NCCAM is an organization that regulates these non-standard practices, and according to their website .
“The mission of NCCAM is to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and alternative medicine interventions and their roles in improving health and health care.”
Some standard practices correlate with some practices utilized in complementary and alternative medicines, physical therapy comes to mind. Complementary and alternative medicines utilize practices such as Yoga and Tai Chi for prevention and treatment of injuries while in standard medicine physical therapy may be used to treat injuries and exercise is recommended to promote a healthy body and thus help to prevent injury.
Many of the practices utilized in complementary and alternative medicine practices have been in practice for many centuries, thousands of years, while modern, or standard medical practices, have developed only recently as far as human existence is concerned, a mere few hundred years. Many natural remedies led to development of modern medicines. Modern medicine has evolved from the use of herbal remedies to scientists isolating and synthesizing the components found in the natural remedies to create modern medicines we use today.
The greatest example of this would have to be the Opium Poppy. Opium has been used as a remedy for pain for thousands of years, ancient armies used to give soldiers raw opium to eat as a pain reliever and appetite suppressant so their men could march for miles and miles, its” ™ use continued up through the civil war although Morphine was synthesized in the early nineteenth century.
Today, several modern pain medications are derived from the Opium Poppy. Drugs like Hydrcodone and Oxycodone are regularly prescribed for pain relief and these drugs were derived from a natural remedy, a simple plant that men have utilized as medicine for literally thousands of years.
Other natural medicines that are commonly used in standard practice would be simple supplements like Omega-3 fish oils, and Vitamins, or aspirin. Aspirin has been in use since the fifth century B.C. and was used as a bartering tool as recently as WWI.
Aspirin is derived from the bark of a white willow tree, and early people simply chewed the bark as a pain reliever or a remedy for a headache. Today, aspirin is derived chemically; the active ingredient in aspirin is salicylic acid, although the natural white willow form is still available.
So, with all this in mind, before you scoff at natural cures or complementary and alternative type medicines, keep in mind that before modern medicine as we know it today, that was what people used and with success. After all, they have been around longer and actually spawned modern medicine.