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Alternative therapy- How safe is that ‘magic bullet’?

By Vision Reporter

Added 14th February 2010 03:00 AM

KAYANJA slipped off a wet floor while taking a bath and fractured his left leg. He was admitted at a private hospital, but after three weeks, there was no significant improvement. He was advised to see a physiotherapist.

KAYANJA slipped off a wet floor while taking a bath and fractured his left leg. He was admitted at a private hospital, but after three weeks, there was no significant improvement. He was advised to see a physiotherapist.

By Arthur Baguma
KAYANJA slipped off a wet floor while taking a bath and fractured his left leg. He was admitted at a private hospital, but after three weeks, there was no significant improvement. He was advised to see a physiotherapist.

After three months of therapy, which included massage and daily exercises, he could walk without the support of crutches.

Experts say alongside conventional medicine, one can use alternative therapy to speed up the healing. “The essence of alternative therapy is that conventional medicine is not 100% perfect,” says Dr. Misaki Wayengera.

He says over time, some alternative therapy has been proved effective. Commonly cited examples are massage, reflexology, colon cleaning and acupuncture.

Other medical sources add herbalism, traditional Chinese medicine, meditation, biofeedback and diet-based therapies, in addition to a range of other practices.
He says over time, some alternative therapy has been proved effective.

This includes massage, reflexology, colon cleansing and acupuncture.
Wayengera observes that although massage is looked at majorly as a leisure activity, in the medical profession, it is used to help in re-modulation or healing broken bones as an alternative therapy.

“When a broken bone heals, it does not go back to its original position. It has to be massaged to the original posture over a period of time — another healing process where alternative therapy comes in,” Wayengera explains.

Dr. Fred Mukisa, a medical practitioner, says alternative therapy is on high demand, especially as a result of what people have perceived as a failure of the mainstream medicine.

Shortage of medicine in health centres is pushing people to alternative therapy. However, Mukisa advises people to avoid using alternative therapy in isolation.

It should be used hand-in-hand with mainstream medication. “It is true some aspects of alternative therapy have been proved to have medicinal value through research.

But alternative therapy should be used concurrently with the conventional medicine.” The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises alternative therapy as alternative medicine in any healing practice that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine.

It is often opposed to evidence-based medicine and encompasses therapy with a historical or cultural, rather than a scientific basis.

It is frequently grouped with complementary medicine under the umbrella term complementary and alternative medicine.

However, some significant researchers in alternative medicine oppose this grouping, preferring to emphasise differences of approach.

Research shows that alternative medicine is as diverse in its foundation and methodologies. Practices may incorporate or base themselves on traditional medicine, folk knowledge, spiritual beliefs, or newly conceived approaches to healing.

The claims made by alternative medicine practitioners are generally not accepted by the medical community because evidence-based assessment of safety and efficacy is not available or has not been performed for many of these practices.

Because alternative techniques tend to lack evidence, some have advocated defining it as non-evidence based medicine or not medicine.

A 1998 systematic review of studies assessing its prevalence in 13 countries concluded that about 31% of cancer patients use some form of complementary and alternative medicine.

Alternative medicine varies from country to country. Complementary and alternative medicine is mainly in the hands of physicians, while some estimates suggest that at least half of alternative practitioners are physicians.

Alternative therapy- How safe is that ‘magic bullet’?

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