Alternative medicine has renewed its growing public interest in recent times due to inequality of patients and healthcare professionals’ ratios with increased workload for the latter, various side effects of modern medicine, lack of complete remission from chronic diseases, high cost of new drugs, and emerging new diseases. Hence, people have become more dependent on treatment systems replying on alternative medicine or herbal medicine from traditional medicinal practitioners. Alternative medicine has grown substantially over time and encompasses several millennia of therapeutic systems. The significant areas of alternative medicine include mind–body therapies, body manipulation, and the therapies based on biological systems. Natural products based biological treatment is the most popular of them as nature has endowed us with abundance of effective pharmacologically active phytochemicals. These phytochemicals possess numerous specific clinical health benefits including antioxidant, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, anti-infectious and analgesic effects. In addition, alternative medicine is easily accessible, affordable, most often noninvasive, and provides favorable benefits during terminal periods of some diseases. However, due to the lack of well-designed clinical trials, the safety and effectiveness of many alternative medicines/therapies remains elusive. This chapter will critically discuss major areas, uses, safety and regulation, current challenges & future perspectives of alternative medicine.
Part of the book: Alternative Medicine