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Alternative medicine is any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine, but is not founded on evidence gathered using the scientific method. It consists of a wide range of health care practices, products and therapies. Examples include new andtraditional medicine practices such as homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, energy medicine, various forms of acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and Christian faith healing. The treatments are those that are not part of science-based healthcare system.
Complementary medicine is alternative medicine used together with conventional medical treatment in a belief, not established using the scientific method, that it “complements” (improves the efficacy of) the treatment.[n 1] CAM is the abbreviation for complementary and alternative medicine. Integrative medicine (or integrative health) is the combination of the practices and methods of alternative medicine with conventional medicine.
Alternative medical diagnoses and treatments are not included as science-based treatments that are taught in medical schools, and are not used in medical practice where treatments are based on what is established using the scientific method. Alternative therapies lack suchscientific validation, and their effectiveness is either unproved or disproved. Alternative medicine is usually based on religion, tradition, superstition, belief in supernatural energies, pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, or fraud. Regulation and licensing of alternative medicine and health care providers varies from country to country, and state to state.
The scientific community has criticized alternative medicine as being based on misleading statements, quackery, pseudoscience,antiscience, fraud, or poor scientific methodology. Promoting alternative medicine has been called dangerous and unethical. Testing alternative medicine has been called a waste of scarce medical research resources. Critics have said “there is really no such thing as alternative medicine, just medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t”, and “Can there be any reasonable ‘alternative’ [to medicine based on evidence
Healing and alternative therapies
Another core factor of the New Age movement is its emphasis on healing and the use of alternative therapies.The general ethos within the movement is that health is the natural state for the human being and that illness is a disruption of that natural balance. Hence, New Age therapies seek to heal “illness” as a general concept which includes physical, mental, and spiritual aspects; in doing so it critiques mainstream Western medicine for simply attempting to cure disease, and thus has an affinity with most forms of traditional medicine found around the world. The concept of “personal growth” is also greatly emphasised within the healing aspects of the New Age movement. The movement’s focus of self-spirituality has led to the emphasis of self-healing, although also present in the movement are ideas that focus on both healing others, and healing the Earth itself.
The healing elements of the movement are difficult to classify given that a variety of terms are used, with some New Age authors using different terms to refer to the same trends, while others use the same term to refer to different things. However, Hanegraaff developed a set of categories into which the forms of New Age healing could be roughly categorised. The first of these was the Human Potential Movement, which argues that contemporary Western society suppresses much human potential, and which accordingly professes to offer a path through which individuals can access those parts of themselves that they have alienated and suppressed, thus enabling them to reach their full potential and live a meaningful life. Hanegraaff described transpersonal psychology as the “theoretical wing” of this Human Potential Movement; in contrast to other schools of psychological thought, transpersonal psychology takes religious and mystical experiences seriously by exploring the uses of altered states of consciousness.Closely connected to this is the shamanic consciousness current, which argues that the shaman was a specialist in altered states of consciousness and which seeks to adopt and imitate traditional shamanic techniques as a form of personal healing and growth.
Hanegraaff identified the second main healing current in the New Age movement as being holistic health. This emerged in the 1970s out of the free clinic movement of the 1960s, and has various connections with the Human Potential Movement. It emphasises the idea tha the human individual is a holistic, interdependent relationship between mind, body, and spirit, and that healing is a process in which an individual becomes whole by integrating with the powers of the universe. A very wide array of methods are utilised within the holistic health movement, with some of the most common including acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, yoga, kinesiology,homeopathy, iridology, massage and other forms of bodywork, meditation and visualisation, nutritional therapy, psychic healing, herbal medicine, healing using crystals, metals, music, and colours, and reincarnation therapy. The use of crystal healing has become a particularly prominent visual trope in the movement. The mainstreaming of the Holistic Health movement in the UK is discussed by Maria Tighe. The inter-relation of holistic health with the New Age movement is illustrated in Jenny Butler’s ethnographic description of “Angel therapy” in Ireland.