WINDS OF CHANGE
Indians Increasingly Adopting Drug-Free Alternative Therapies
Convergence of diversity
India is home to a diverse set of medical sciences, therapies, treatment procedures and healthcare approaches; some of them renowned for their unique way of diagnosis and treatment. The Indian Systems of Medicine (ISM) encompasses Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Homoeopathy, and therapies such as Yoga and Naturopathy. Ayurveda is believed to be one of the world’s oldest medical systems (at least 3,000 years old); practice of Unani in India can be traced back to the 13th century and Homeopathy to early 19th century.
It is very evident that ISM has as much prominence and acceptance in the society as the modern medicine. While the rest of the world is waking up to the idea of Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM), India has the clear advantage in terms of expertise and confluence of therapies from across ISM and similar systems that are proven safe & effective into the realm of conventional healthcare.
Some such therapies & procedures that fall outside the mainstream medical care but have found patronage in India include Reflexology, Acupuncture, Acupressure, Aromatherapy, Hypnotherapy, Reiki Therapy, Magnetotherapy, Psychotherapy, Herbal Medicine, Hydrotherapy, Chromotherapy, Biofield therapy, Heliotherapy and Oxygen Therapy. Another popular complementary healthcare program that is rapidly gaining popularity in India is the Halotherapy (Salt Therapy).
Salt therapy, or ‘Halotherapy‘, is a drug-free therapy that uses dry sodium chloride to help relieve respiratory problems such as sinusitis, hayfever, asthma and bronchitis and skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis and allergies. For those in general good health, it’s also thought to help improve one’s sense of wellbeing and boost immunity.
Salt Therapy is the process of breathing dry, micronized salt particles in the form of salt air. These micronized salt particles can travel to the smallest and deepest areas of the lungs. Salt Therapy helps to support the body’s immune system in the thinning and excretion of mucus, and by reducing inflammation in the airways. Allergens and pollutants can more easily be eliminated from the body as the mucus thins and as constriction is reduced in the bronchi and bronchioles.
Salt Therapy is a drug free therapy for relieving the symptoms of allergies, asthma, COPD and other respiratory conditions. In areas where pollution and pollen levels are high, salt therapy can be a powerful ally in the battle to relieve the discomfort of respiratory and skin conditions.
Renowned world-wide as a 100% natural, safe and drug-free therapy proven to be useful in alleviating many different conditions – asthma, rhinitis, bronchitis, acne, eczema, snoring, sinusitis and ear and respiratory infections, among others – Salt therapy or halotherapy is the therapeutic use of exposure to salt air.
The paradigm shift
The healthcare scenario in India is slowly but surely transitioning from being a predominantly patient-centric model to that of patient-driven. Traditionally, the Indian patient would let his doctor decide what’s best for him without any question. That in fact, is the essence of the patient-centric approach wherein the wise-doctor evaluates the options, makes the choice of treatment without much participation from the patient.
However, more recently those discussions at the doctor’s cabin have evolved. While, the trust remains intact, the patient has come to ask his doctor questions such as, ‘What are my alternate options?’ and ‘Can I complement these medicines with anything else?’ and even “How does procedure-X compare with procedure-Y” ?
What we are witnessing is an evolution in the patient behavior leading to prominent Patient-Driven healthcare practices. The patients are actively seeking information about their condition, evaluating their options, researching similar cases and eventually making those important decisions themselves rather than relying solely only on the wise-counsel of the physicians.
The patients are looking beyond the conventional wisdom and doctors recommendations; they are seeking peer experiences, exploring alternate medicine before making an informed decision about their health and healthcare.This trend holds the potential to revolutionize the health care delivery models.
Essence of patient-driven healthcare model
- Marked by patients taking control over their own health and healthcare
- Empowers patient through information access, transparency
- Patient has the flexibility to explore options, customization and even personalized medicine
- The new-normal
One of the common myths around this trend is that the role of doctors will increasingly diminish. What the naysayers do not comprehend is that the doctor-patient equation does not terminate but merely gets realigned to a new balance in the patient-driven healthcare model. In a typical scenario, the doctors will demonstrate highest levels of transparency, educate the patients about their condition, share with them the various options and enable them to make an informed choice.
Once the patient has made their choice, the doctor can then lay down a holistic personalized healthcare plan that integrates the effectiveness of conventional medicine and the catalyzing effects of complementary therapies. After initiating the healthcare program, the patient will still need the doctor for periodic health monitoring and course correction (when necessary) in terms of drug dosage optimization.
The winds of change surely seem to be heralding a promising future to Indian Healthcare ecosystem; a holistic confluence of mainstream medicine and effective wellness programs.
Author: Dr K P Loknath Kumar, Medical Director, RESPICARE India