I am beginning a series of blogs on Alternative Practice v Traditional Practice. I hope you enjoy reading them. Please feel free to comment.
So what came first, alternative or traditional. Think about it.
Alternative Medicine or Practice is defined loosely as a set of products, practices and theories that are believed or perceived by their users to have the healing effects of medicine but whose effectiveness has not been established using scientific methods.
I would make this a bit more 21st century by including alternative and traditional prevention and preventive treatments. At the end of the day we all want to live a long and healthy life without going through invasive treatments.
There is now a hugely increasing demand for alternative solutions to what many consider ‘mainstream’ or ‘traditional’ or ‘evidenced-based’ & as someone who spent many years practicing in the mainstream, I fully understand why this is the case.
Thanks to Sir Tim Berners Lee, everyone has instant access to information via the internet and people are now much better informed and in many cases they become the experts with their particular ailments and can find it really frustrating when their local General Practitioner has not got the in-depth understanding as to the patient. It may also be the case that your practitioner is not practicing a particular methodology that works for you and this one is an improvement on what went before.
As a clinician, it is really easy to be arrogant with some patients and cast aside what may appear to be unusual self-prescribed treatments or treatment requests to particular issues just because we haven’t ever read or heard about a particular theory. Early on in my career, I was guilty of this approach but age and experience taught me to be much more open-minded and now I would consider having arrived in the land of alternative philosophies.
I began using Guided Biofilm Therapy (GBT) several years ago as my chosen method of oral prophylaxis treatment as it is pain-free for the patient, effective, quick and minimally invasive on the soft and hard tissues. I saw amazing results in my own hands and soon I had no available space for many weeks in my appointment book! Patients love it.
At the time there was very little scientific evidence for this method and it would have been ‘alternative’ to traditional therapy. Several years later many more clinicians, globally are adopting this practice and some universities are bringing it onto the curriculum. I am assisting some of those universities to make the change. The research is increasing and the evidence convincing. The majority of clinicians are not currently practicing GBT and now we are entering interesting territory where the best option for patients may no longer be alternative!
So, what can we learn from this?
Traditional and alternative is not black and white. It is a grey area that is multi-factorial and one of the important threads is time. Consider how acupuncture and hypnotherapy have moved from alternative to mainstream over the years.
Just to add to this conundrum, evidence and what construes good evidence is now being questioned and quite rightly so. There is now more acceptance of action research, where individual practice-based research is being viewed as a good alternative, especially where large scale patient trials would not be able to offer reliable results.
Another important factor is money. Research is expensive and if the therapy in question is not going to make profits for companies, then obtaining the important evidence can be very difficult or it may take a very long time to become ‘mainstream’.
On the next blog I will discuss one such therapy.
For more information on GBT please click here: EMS
For examples of Action Research please click here: O'Hehir University