Posted: October 27th, 2022
iscussion 4: Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Discuss the safety and effectiveness of alternative and complementary medicine for the treatment of specific illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and hypertension.
The U.S. federal government’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), is an agency with resources allocated to the research on specific health interventions and practices not within the realm of mainstream medicine (Arcangelo et al., 2017).
Arcangelo et al. (2017), highlights 5 domains of complementary and alternative medicine with a few examples:
Alternative Medicine Systems- These theories and practices emerged even before conventional medicine and include homeopathic and naturopathic medicines along with traditional Chinese medicine.
Mind/Body Intervention- Techniques used by the mind to affect the body’s function include biofeedback, meditation, dance therapy, and art therapy.
Biologically Based Therapy- This treatment is derived from substances found in nature and include dietary herbal supplements.
Manipulation and Body-Based Methods- Manipulation of body parts include massage therapy and chiropractic treatment.
Energy Therapies- The use of biofield therapy to affect energy fields which penetrate the body include therapeutic touch, Reiki, and the unconventional use of bioelectromagnetic therapy.
According to a recent study, Atkinson (2020), points out that despite the lack of strong evidence of efficacy, many oncology patients will use complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs). The study highlights a number of interesting points from a patient’s perspective. Atkinson (2020), states that up to 70% of cancer patients have integrated CAMs with 60% of those choosing to do so based on their own research. Aside from the 10% who’s oncologist introduced them to CAMs, the vast majority were influenced by spouses, family members, the internet, or spiritual guidance. A number of their key reasonings was that they felt the doctor only treated the disease and did not attend to their overall wellbeing (Atkinson, 2020). Chemotherapy has a great deal of side effects which the study’s participants noted, nausea, depression, anxiety, and fatigue as being among the most prevalent and impactful. CAMs enabled them to feel empowered in their care decisions, in addition to being affordable and accessible.
Would you have any conflicts/concerns supporting a patient who choose holistic/allopathic medicine?
As an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, I feel our duty to is provide our patients with quality, safe, evidenced-based care to achieve optimal health outcomes. When providing individualized, patient-centered care I feel its vital to empower our patients and truly listen to what their needs are and develop a collaborative plan of treatment. We need to take the time to establish a trusting relationship and ask questions to understand their cultures and beliefs. According to Arcangelo et al. (2017), most patients do not voluntarily communicate their use of CAMs with their healthcare provider. This is an issue. We need to maintain open communications about the use of CAMs to ensure treatment adherence as well as the patient’s safety. While some CAMs such as touch therapy and meditation may be integrated into the patient’s treatment plan with therapeutic effects, other treatments such as the addition of certain nonregulated, herbal OTC medicines many cause an adverse effect with the prescribed pharmacotherapy.
In conclusion, I think one of the unique characteristics a nurse can bring into medicine is our innate ability to treat our clients holistically. From the beginning of time, at least in my 22 years of bedside nursing, I have learned to improve the patient’s overall health of mind, body, and soul through a holistic approach. The crucial aspect is ensuring a trusting relationship and following up with your patient on treatment compliance and desired results or adverse reactions until a safe and effective plan is achieved.
Arcangelo, P. V., Peterson, M. A., Wilbur, V., & Reinhold, A. J. (2017). Pharmacotherapeutics for Advanced Practice: A Practical Approach (4th Ed.). Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Atkinson, J. (2020). Complementary medicines and chemotherapy: if you can’t beat them, join them. Australian Journal of Cancer Nursing, 21(2), 8–14. https://doi.org/10.33235/ajcn.21.2.8-14
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