For contemporary science, the existence of complementary and alternative medicine, as an outcome of medical pluralism, is a significant social phenomenon. The coexistence of a “highly elaborate array of medical traditions at both the conceptual and the practice level” implies the usage of both traditional medicine and modern medical assistance (Singer & Baer, 2012, p. 144). Traditional ethnomedical systems emphasize the importance of magico-religious rituals to restore the harmony between nature, supernatural realms, and the human body (Singer & Baer, 2012). In developing societies, people connect specific diseases with an absence of morality (Van Hollen, 2013). However, recent regional and national studies in developed countries discovered a high usage of complementary and alternative medicine for the treatment of severe chronic disease. That is why the examination of the reasons for traditional medicine’s usage from a social perspective may be regarded as highly intriguing.
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Any social phenomenon that generates controversies of society inevitably attracts the attention of sociologists. Some scholars connect the increasing popularity of complementary and alternative medicine with a global economic downturn that negatively affected the accessibility of medical assistance. Other researches address the complementary dependence of traditional medicine with orthodoxy, however, there is a lack of empirical studies in this field (Singer & Baer, 2012). Multiple studies of motivations for the use of traditional medicine by people of different ages, genders, and ethnicities were conducted, and their results show that people frequently use complementary and alternative medicine due to socioeconomic and racist struggles. However, the collective usage of traditional medicine creates an atmosphere of support that may attract people with chronic and incurable diseases.
From a personal perspective, people address complementary and alternative medicine either in the cases of completely non-severe diseases or when healthcare practitioners are already helpless. People frequently “view healers from other cultures or societies as more powerful and efficacious than their own healers” (Singer & Baer, 2012, p. 121). That is why patients who suffer from incurable decease are ready to try all kinds of medicine to get a chance for recovery.
Singer, M., & Baer, H. (2012). Introducing medical anthropology: A discipline in action (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.
Van Hollen, C. (2013). Birth in the age of AIDS: Women, reproduction, and HIV/AIDS in India. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.