Alternative medicine is on the rise. Some studies say that one in four Canadians use alternative treatments at some point in their lives, while others claim that the figure is closer to 70%. Though the exact number is disputed, it is clear that the emergence of complementary medicine is having an impact on health care policy in Canada.
Alternative medicine is defined as any range of medical therapies that are not considered orthodox by the mainstream medical profession. Examples include homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, and naturopathy. These therapies can be criticized because they are not rooted in the scientific evidence generally accepted by the medical community. Regardless, the increasing interest in alternative medicine raises questions for health care professionals and policy makers alike. Should the medical community be listening to evidence-based science or to the growing desires of patients?
On the conventional side of the debate, Ontario doctors are against the recognition of alternative health care in Canada. Alternative health professionals are now allowed to regulate themselves in certain provinces, which has raised concerns within the medical community. Many doctors believe that because their methods are not rooted in science, naturopaths, homeopaths, and acupuncturists are not capable of safely treating most chronic conditions.