The usual mode of treatment includes a patient seeing mainly a specialist for his or her condition and visiting a clinic or hospital for either one-to-one treatment from the doctor, or a treatment program from a team, which usually includes allopathic medications with the standard protocol of treatment method being followed. Even when following a disease management or chronic care program, the treatment includes a standard protocol by which the specialist along with care and support providers follow a set of treatment methods consisting of medication and regular follow-up with evaluation of the outcome, if any.
But now there are various alternative methods of patient care as well as patient treatments that are being explored and found to be effective.
Alternative medicine involves anything that is a break from the usual allopathic medications. This stream of treatment includes acupuncture, or herbal medicine, or energy healing, and other forms of healing that were earlier not considered a form of medication, especially in the West, whereas the methods are centuries-old practices in the East.
Other means of providing care to patients are often termed as complementary methods, and this term is used in conjunction with alternative medicine. These can include meditation, massage therapy, and yoga, which complement the traditional treatment methods for better healing and care.
Apart from alternative medications such as those mentioned above, there are often alternative treatment options too. These treatment methods include hospice care and palliative care—the treatment methods for patients suffering from certain diseases, or those requiring special care or treatments and care, which aim at alleviating the pain and minimizing the symptoms rather than treating the disease per se.
Benefits of alternative methods of patient care
Alternative methods of patient care have a number of benefits. However, there is a need to explore many of them further to take advantage of them and combine them with traditional methods.
Complementary methods often aim to relieve the pain and minimize symptoms without interfering with the usual medication and treatment.
Alternative medicine and care often does not limit itself to medication and treatment of physical symptoms, but also aims at targeting the mind, body, and spirit. Thus, the healing process is aimed at the entire body along with the mind, an approach which has often been found to be effective in speedy recovery along with a positive attitude.
Cancer patients can sometimes spiral down into darkness and depression while suffering from symptoms physically in terms of pain and mentally in terms of depression along with stress. Complementary and alternative methods of patient care have been reported to benefit from these other forms of care that aim at mental well being in addition to reducing the physical pain and treating the symptoms.
Energy healing and healing arts have been found to be especially beneficial for cancer patients exploring alternative care methods. Herbal remedies, massage therapy, vitamin use, and special diet have also found benefit among cancer patients, while yoga, acupuncture, homeopathy, Tai chi, relaxation, and chiropractic methods did not have significant physical benefits, but helped improve mental health.
These findings, among many others, point towards the benefit of alternative methods of patient care.