When looking for pain relief, terms that are often thrown around these days include the likes of aromatherapy, ayurvedic medicine, and willow bark infusions. The healthcare industry is abuzz with terms such as alternative medicine and complementary medicine. That is unlikely to change thanks to an explosion in the public interest. More and more people are opting for complementary medicine in order to avoid the huge financial cost of going to doctors and undertaking conventional treatment.
Nurses are one of many groups of people who are curious to know if these treatments are safe and whether the healthcare industry is in for a big change. Although nursing school programs do not currently include complementary medicine, which is why some nurses remain wary of the likes of homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicines. However, it is still important for nurses to understand them so they can have clear communication with patients, who may otherwise withhold details of their own treatment out of fear of receiving a judgmental response.
This is why DNP nursing at the likes of Wilkes University also deals with complementary medicine. Nursing is already including aspects of this form of medicine. A simple act such as providing a patient with a cup of chamomile tea is in itself a demonstration of a mode of traditional healing.
The commonly used areas of complementary medicine being used in healthcare are acupuncture, hypnosis, meditation, therapeutic touch, vitamins, aromatherapy, massage therapy, Tai Chi, and herbal supplements. One of the reasons why they are so common is that they are also among the areas that have been studied and researched the most, with verifiable results as to their efficacy.
Because of this, they are also being utilized more often in modern medicine. Aromatherapy oils are now being used in hospitals for post-op patients as a way to reduce pain and anxiety following surgery, avoiding the need for more excessive pain medications. Psychiatrists have long been making use of meditation to augment the likes of dialectic behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy with guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation.
Research shows that Tai Chi can improve flexibility and balance in older people, cutting down on the number of falls in both community and long-term care settings, while herbal supplements such as the likes of CBD oil have demonstrated an ability to reduce anxiety, pain, and even seizures.
Hypnosis has been shown to help people quit smoking and overeating, therapeutic touch has shown to help with certain instances of pain via manipulation of the body’s surrounding energy fields and massage therapy and acupuncture have also been shown to help with addictions.
The evidence that shows the benefits of these practices have helped them to enter the mainstream, with aromatherapy now commonly in use in labor and delivery units, to cite just one example.
Nurses need to have a greater understanding of alternative and complementary medicines in order to be able to implement them into their practice and should also be aware of how they can receive more education on these growing trends.