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Alternative medicine? 替代疗法

中国日报网 2021-01-05 12:58


Reader question:

Please explain “alternative medicine”, as in “best alternative medicines to buy online”.

My comments:

The question is, alternative to what?

Alternative to what’s considered mainstream, that is.


Yeah, as name suggests, mainstream refers to the main stream or the main course of a river. Mainstream medicine refers to Western medicine worldwide. It’s the common medicine practiced worldwide. It’s what’s available in the hospital. It’s what’s officially recognized.

Prescription drugs, for example, those prescribed by an officially certified doctor, belong to mainstream medicine.

The Chinese acupuncture, for instance, is not considered mainstream worldwide. Hence, in many other countries, acupuncture is considered a form of alternative medicine.

All other forms of medicine than Western medicine are or can be lumped together as alternative medicines, including all folk cures here or anywhere else.

Alternative means choice. Alternative medicine gives people an additional choice. People like choices, so, understandably, alternative medicines have their market. They’re also called complimentary medicine, complimentary to the main, that is.

Alternative medicines are not proven by the Western medicine to be efficacious but they may work.

Or they may not work.

Or it may be up to the individual. In other words, it may work for one person, but not for another.

If you have a toothache, for example, you can take a pain killer prescribed by a doctor. Or you can hold a mouthful of cold water, as some folk say (and, yes, I’ve heard someone say that it works – before quickly adding, sometimes).

Anyway, alternative medicine is complimentary to the mainstream or Western medicine.

Which one is better?

I don’t know.

The choice is yours. Take your pick.

Or, as they say, pick your poison.

All right, here are media examples of “alternative medicine”:

1. IF YOU’VE EVER stretched out on a yoga mat or popped a probiotic, you may be part of the growing segment of the U.S. population that uses non-conventional therapies to treat medical problems.

Complementary and alternative medicine, sometimes referred to as CAM, is an umbrella term for a vast array of treatments that fall outside conventional Western approaches. Some have been well-studied and proven to be effective; others have not.

Although labels like “alternative medicine,” “naturopathic medicine” and “integrative medicine” are often casually used (and misused), each term refers to something specific and different.

Here are eight common terms used in non-conventional approaches to medicine and what researchers and practitioners say about them.

Alternative Medicine

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, actual alternative medicine is very rare. The organization defines alternative medicine as any non-conventional interventions that are used instead of conventional treatments, not in conjunction with them. Interventions like yoga, acupuncture, herbal remedies and massage therapy may be alternative treatments, but are considered alternative medicine only when they're used in place of conventional treatments, explained National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health Deputy Director David Shurtleff.

Complementary Health Care

Complementary health care refers to alternative treatments used in conjunction with mainstream treatment.

Using acupuncture in conjunction with standard pharmacological treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee, for instance, is a form of complementary medicine that has been proven to be more effective than the conventional treatment alone.

Shurtleff noted that some non-conventional practices eventually become accepted as part of standard, conventional care. “As the practice becomes more codified, as people start to request it, as evidence starts to become more solid as far as the efficacy...it can become more mainstream,” he said, pointing out how chiropractic care was once considered complementary medicine, but is now part of conventional care for certain people, including veterans.

- What Is Alternative Medicine? USNews.com, July 12, 2017.

2. Ayurveda is a system of medicine with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. Globalized and modernized practices derived from Ayurveda traditions are a type of alternative medicine. Laura Coburn, a certified Ayurveda Health Counselor and Director of Serenity at the Inns of Aurora, explains, “Ayurveda supports optimal health by properly eliminating toxins from the body, supporting the digestion process, and assimilating nourishment. Ayurveda is a spiritual and physical science, and the discipline of daily self-care practice yields increased confidence and self-esteem.”

Travelers who are seeking spiritual journeys via wellness retreats are well advised to consider the following resorts.

Inns of Aurora, Aurora, NY

At Inns of Aurora, a luxury lakeside boutique resort in the Finger Lakes, on-site Director of Serenity, Coburn is available for private sessions where she creates tailored activities such as restorative yoga and meditation sessions, essential oil and organic tea blending classes. Before heading to bed, guests can cozy up by one of several on-site fireplaces to enjoy a glass of Ayurveda-inspired Nighty Night Milk while Coburn hosts tarot card readings.

The Bristol Hotel, Bristol, VA

At The Bristol Hotel, located directly in the center of Southern Appalachia, busy travelers can enjoy upon-request medicinal mountain remedies to promote self-care. Courtesy of local Ayurvedic herbalist, Appalachian Alchemy, guests have access to a variety of Ayurvedic wellness offerings including Ashwagandha-infused sleepy time tinctures, CBD tea, pain relief salves, cold and flu herbal syrups and herbal CBD dog goodies, among others.

Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai Spa and Wellness Center, Thailand

Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai Spa and Wellness Center boasts a dedicated Ayurveda Center with a holistic approach to address mind, body and spirit. The resort offers wellness immersions ranging three to 21 days, including customizable Ayurvedic programs. Guests are paired with a resident Auyrvedic specialist for a comprehensive dosha analysis resulting in a personalized program of treatments, including yoga, meditation and Ayurvedic massage.

- Six Top Ayurveda Wellness Resorts For Holistic Travelers, Forbes.com, July 21, 2020.

3. We refer to repeatedly copy-and-pasted text shared across multiple digital platforms as “copypasta” — a sort of chain email for the social media age. Copypasta has been a major feature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the misinformation associated with it, often claiming to provide anonymously sourced “insider” information on how to treat, cure, or avoid the disease that is often incorrect and dangerous. As always, we remind our readers that anonymous claims on the internet should never be taken as factual, efficacious, or even safe.

In late December 2020, a piece of copypasta allegedly written by someone whose friend “came down with Covid in November” and received information from a nurse on how to fight the disease “at home” went viral:


No one ever talks about how to fight Covid at home.

A friend came down with Covid in November. She went to the hospital, running a fever of 103, a rapid heartbeat, and other common symptoms that come with Covid. While she was there they treated her for the high fever, dehydration and pneumonia. The doctor sent her home to fight Covid with two prescriptions – Azithromycin 250mg & Dexamethason [sic] 6mg. When the nurse came in to discharge her, she asked her, “What can I do to help fight this at home?”


The copypasta post asserts that people recovering from COVID-19 should not drink dairy or eat pork. This information is not supported by any reputable source. In terms of dairy, it is contradicted by several reputable sources that explicitly recommend dairy products, among many other foods, during COVID-19 recovery. There has been, since long before COVID, a misconception that dairy products create more phlegm in the lungs. While it’s possible dairy products make existing phlegm thicker and feel more irritating, it does not actively contribute to production.

In terms of pork, we are unclear what exactly the author of the viral post is referring to. There is a belief held by some practitioners of alternative medicine that pork can contribute to “dampness” and phlegm, but this is not supported by peer-reviewed science. While several processed pork products may be counterproductive in terms of health, a ban on pork as a source of protein does not seem to be supported by any COVID-19 related medical advice. The Hospital for Special Surgeries in New York recommends pork chops as a source of meat that contains zinc, for example.

- Viral Post ‘How To Fight Covid at Home’ Provides Problematic Advice, December 29, 2020, Snopes.com.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)


All hands on deck? 召集一切力量


Left in the lurch? 陷入困境


Arm twisting tactics? 强制手段


False hope? 虚假的希望


Shouting match? 高声争论


Not in the cards? 不可能发生

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