Conventional Western Medicine includes diagnoses and therapies that are normally taught to doctors in medical schools and used in traditional hospitals. Conventional therapies are based on scientific knowledge of the body and use treatments that have been proven effective through scientific research. Doctors are trained to have a thorough knowledge of the body's systems, diseases, and their treatments.
However, the Western Medicine approach is proving to be limited because until recently, the body has only been viewed in terms of chemistry and biology and no significant efforts have been made to understand the body in terms of “physics”. Therefore, there’s been little scientific research in Western Medicine that’s studied the energy systems of the body, even though traditional healing systems in Eastern countries have understood and mapped the body’s energy systems for hundreds of years and therefore designed healing therapies to balance the energy of the body with this knowledge in mind.
For example, acupuncture is not part of conventional medical training but in many Eastern countries it’s common to use practices like acupuncture in medicine, which involves using needles to re-direct and balance energy flow when it’s become imbalanced.
People in Western countries like the United States used to consider these type of therapies outside the mainstream, or "alternative”, but in the last 20-30 years, patients in Western countries have become more interested in these approaches, and turn to them when they want to avoid unwanted side effects of conventional treatments (e.g. chemotherapy, pharmaceutical drugs, etc.), where they have a long term problem and conventional treatment has proven ineffective, or they want to engage in preventing chronic health issues in the future.
“Alternative Medicine” can include healing therapies used instead of or in addition to a conventional medicine approach, and includes approaches like acupuncture, herbal medicine, meditation, yoga, magnetic therapy, reflexology, diet change, detoxification regimens, massage therapy, and many more. Some alternative medicine therapies are supported by scientific evidence, while others are not. Many still need to be studied. This doesn't mean these therapies don't work, it just means that experts haven't studied them enough to know if they do — and if so, how. But from the many anecdotal case studies of people healing themselves without conventional medicine, it’s becoming clear that alternative healing therapies can be powerful in preventing chronic health issues, and stimulating the body’s natural self-healing and repair mechanisms.
Currently, insurance policies don’t cover most alternative medicine treatments, so people may have to pay for them out of their own pockets with no reimbursement. However, legislation is currently being introduced to require that health insurance providers include coverage for alternative therapies. Alternative healing therapies that are effective for one problem may not help with all problems, so it’s important to make sure that the therapy you’re trying is a match to the health goals that you’re trying to achieve.