What to Consider When Seeking Alternative Therapies: A Practical Guide

Alternaleaf Team
Written by
Alternaleaf Team
May 24, 2022
Last updated:
Sep 22, 2023

While alternative therapies can be an important part of a holistic treatment plan, not all alternative therapies are created equal. If you’re seeking alternatives for chronic pain, mental health or other issues, it’s crucial to make informed decisions for your health and wellbeing.

What Are Alternative Therapies?

Alternative therapies are medical treatments that fall outside the realm of conventional or Western medicine. Alternative therapies are sometimes referred to as “complementary” or “holistic” medicine.

There’s a wide range of alternative therapies available. Alternative therapies can include:

  • Mind-body practices like yoga and meditation
  • Natural products including botanicals, vitamins, and supplements
  • Manipulative techniques like massage, chiropractic, and reflexology
  • Energy healing, e.g. reiki

Medical cannabis in Australia is one type of botanical alternative therapy, using the interactions between a natural product and our endocannabinoid system to promote health and wellness.

What Are The Benefits of Alternative Therapies Like Cannabis in Australia?

Many people seek out alternative therapies to complement or enhance the conventional medical treatment they are already receiving. Alternative therapies can offer symptom management across a range of debilitating symptoms that affect your quality of life.

For example, someone receiving chemotherapy for cancer may also use alternative therapies such as medical cannabis to manage the side effects of pain and nausea from the cancer treatment.

Some patients also seek alternative therapies when they have not had success with traditional medical treatment or they have experienced unwanted side effects, such as changes in mood, dependence, tolerance development, and other adverse reactions.

4 Things To Consider When Seeking Alternative Therapies

By their nature, alternative therapies have a less robust evidence base than traditional medicine. However, this does not mean they can't be effective. As more research is carried out, the evidence base for the effectiveness of some of these alternatives, like medical cannabis, is growing.

For now, however, it means patients should research carefully before choosing a particular therapy. Here are four things to consider when seeking alternative therapies:

1. Take a More Holistic Approach

The first thing to consider is choosing a practitioner who takes a holistic approach. Your practitioner should get detailed information about your medical history, condition, symptoms and previous treatments you've tried. They should be interested in how your condition has impacted your quality of life.

2. Knowledge of Your Condition

As with conventional medicine, alternative medicine practitioners specialise in particular conditions. Choose a practitioner with deep interest and expertise in your condition.

3. Evidence-Based Practice

While there is less evidence for alternative therapies, that doesn’t mean there is none. Good practitioners will stay informed about the latest research and best practices in their field. As more evidence emerges quickly for alternative therapies — especially cannabis — it’s important to work with someone who is interested in and adaptable to the growing body of knowledge.

4. Using Alternative and Traditional Medicine

Finally, look for a practitioner willing to work with your conventional medical providers. Most alternative therapies are not replacements for conventional medicines, and it can be dangerous to stop other medical treatments in favour of alternative therapies.

The best practitioners will take a comprehensive view of your treatment and conditions and prescribe alternative therapies accordingly. By providing a complete picture of your health, your practitioner can help you treat all physical, mental, and emotional effects of your condition.

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