Availability of various types of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is at an all-time high. Some of these practices include: homeopathy, herbal formulas, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, spiritual guidance, and prayer. (Shi and Singh, 2019) With these practices becoming more and more widespread, it calls into question if Christian believers should consider using them. As stated by GotQuestions.org (2010), “Many kinds of alternative medicine have their origins in non-Christian religions or anti-Christian philosophies.” It isn’t surprising that because of this some Christians steer clear of alternative medicine altogether. Shi and Singh (2019) explain that the efficacy of CAM treatments have not been established. Because of this, several questions should come to mind from a Christian standpoint. First and foremost, directly related to the lack of scientific evidence, the integrity of CAM treatment and their recommendations should be considered. Secondly, from where are these treatments rooted? Many CAM treatments are based in eastern religions such as Hinduism and Taoism, both apart from teachings and healing practices of Jesus Christ. Lastly, do the methods of diagnosis and treatments involved in CAM present any sort of spiritual danger such as occult practices, which are forbidden by scripture. (Christian Medical Fellowship – cmf.org.uk, 2019) Ezekiel 13:20 (NLT) says, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against all your magic charms, which you use to ensnare my people like birds. I will tear them from your arms, setting my people free like birds set free from a cage.” From a Christian standpoint and in the interest of patients, believers should be thoroughly informed about CAM treatments and therapies in order to make clear judgment calls about whether or not they should be recommended. Many times frustrated patients are grabbing hold to whatever hope is available, and sensitivity to that need is essential. CAM treatments should not be shunned altogether, but rigorously researched and carefully implemented to meet patient needs.
“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality” (Romans 12:12-13, NLT). Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the term for medical products and practices that are not part of standard medical care. Shi and Singh (2015) admit that complementary and alternative medicine therapy both have some distinctions. Complementary treatments are in conjunction with conventional medicine and alternative interventions are used in lieu of conventional medicine. Complementary medicine is treatments that are used along with standard medical treatments but are not considered to be standard treatments. One example is using acupuncture to help lessen some side effects of cancer treatment. Alternative medicine is treatments that are used instead of standard medical treatments. One example is using a special diet to treat cancer instead of anticancer drugs that are prescribed by an oncologist (p. 277).
The use of CAM therapies has been evaluated and it was discovered that some are safe and effective. However, some doctors and pharmacies frown upon the use of CAM therapies as it takes money of out of their pockets. If everyone used CAM therapies, there will not be a usage of physicians, costly prescriptions, and surgeries, and chemotherapy; all of which are in a million-dollar market. Cancer patients should definitely consult with a physician to see if CAM is the best fit. Natural does not always mean safe. It is imperative that the patient conducts research of all of the different therapies to make a sound decision.
Shi, L., & Singh, D. (n.d.). Delivering Health Care in America: A Systems Approach (7th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.