The use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in the healthcare system has significantly increased over the years. Increased use of CAM has been witnessed in treating chronic illnesses like cancer, hypertension, and diabetes. This paper discusses the safety and effectiveness of Complementary and Alternative Treatment in treating cancer, diabetes, and hypertension.
Cancer remains the most common cause of death across diverse populations in most states. In middle and low-income states, the dispensing of healthcare services is poor due to the high cost of treatment, limiting access, limited resources, and cultural beliefs that influence people’s willingness to seek healthcare services in healthcare institutions. These factors have led patients to seek alternative and complementary medicine treatments to manage cancer. CAM is often a natural remedy that eases the effects of conventional treatments, boosts the patient’s immunity, and improves their general wellbeing (Mora et al., 2022). Although CAM is used extensively among pediatric cancer patients in most countries, some patients have adverse reactions to CAM treatments that may cause significant risks to their health and recovery. Contemporary research lacks sufficient evidence to support the safety and effectiveness of CAM use in cancer treatment. Alternative medical systems like acupuncture for managing constitutional and gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, drowsiness, pain, and vomiting effectively relieved the symptoms and comforted pediatric patients and their guardians. Despite the effectiveness of CAM treatments, research on the safety precautions of using these treatments in cancer treatment is limited.
Trraditional herbal medicine is easily available and accessible; thus, many patients opt for it. The most frequently used traditional treatments for diabetes mellitus are medicinal plants and indigenous vegetables, which help manage the disease’s symptoms. These vegetables and plants include hare lettuce leaves, okra pods, nightshade leaves, amaranth leaves, avocado seed, spider plant leaves, moringa seeds and leaves, lemongrass, soursop leaves, and black plum back. Research documents that about 80% of people in middle and low-income countries rely on traditional remedies as the primary treatment for various diseases, including diabetes mellitus (Kasole et al., 2019). The benefits of the mentioned traditional remedies in managing diabetes mellitus are massive, although research on the biological components of these vegetables and herbs that provide relief is lacking. Moreover, there is limited research on safety precautions, although herbalists insist on following specific regimens for the effectiveness of the drugs administered.
The CAM treatment used in managing hypertension reveals that the herbs enhance the patient’s social functioning while reducing their health outcomes. Some crude herbs sused by patients with hypertension include Momordica charantia, Cosmos caudatus, Centella asiatica, Parkia speciosa, Cucumis sativus, and Moringa oleifera in Malaysia (Joachimdass et al., 2021). Herbs in the global sphere include Aloe vera, Crataegus aronia, Carthamus tinctorius, Hibiscus sabdariffa, and Allium sativa. These crude herbs contain antihypertensive characteristics that enhance vasodilation of blood vessels. However, clinical trials are required to establish these herbs’ safety.
I would not have concerns supporting a patient who chooses holistic/ allopathic medicine depending on the appropriateness of the treatment plans. Factors that influence the implementation of CAM include the severity of the disease, acuteness of the disease, the extent of the disease’s invasiveness such as advanced cancer stages, the curability of the disease using CAM, the associated side effects of the treatment, and the availability of evidence-based practice to support the CAM’s effectiveness (Tenner et al., 2019). It is critical to assess these concerns before supporting CAM to maximize health outcomes and help the patient make an informed decision on the preferred treatment plan.
In conclusion, CAM is beneficial in managing symptoms of cancer, diabetes, and hypertension, such as pain and discomfort. However, more research is needed to assess the safety of CAM treatments to maximize the health benefits and enhance patient outcomes.
Joachimdass, R. J., Subramaniam, K., Sit, N. W., Lim, Y. M., Teo, C. H., Ng, C. J., … & Loganathan, A. (2021). Self-management using crude herbs and the health-related quality of life among adult patients with hypertension living in a suburban setting of Malaysia. PloS one, 16(9), e0257336.
Kasole, R., Martin, H. D., & Kimiywe, J. (2019). Traditional medicine and its role in the management of diabetes mellitus:“patients’ and herbalists’ perspectives”. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2019.
Mora, D. C., Kristoffersen, A. E., Overvåg, G., Jong, M. C., Mentink, M., Liu, J., & Stub, T. (2022). Safety of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) treatment among children and young adults who suffer from adverse effects of conventional cancer treatment: A systematic review. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 21, 15347354221105563.
Tenner, L., Hlubocky, F. J., Blanke, C. D., LeBlanc, T. W., Marron, J. M., McGinnis, M. M., … & Taylor, L. P. (2019). Let’s talk about those herbs you are taking: ethical considerations for communication with patients with cancer about complementary and alternative medicine. Journal of oncology practice, 15(1), 44-49.
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