While science continues to make advances each year in its list of verified cures and reliable treatments, there yet remain a sizable number of complaints for which conventional medicine has no answer (or no hard and fast answer, at any rate). When this is the case, people often turn to alternative options for help, whether it is in a set of practices or treatments—as in yoga and acupuncture—or in a tangible medicament—as in herbal remedies and supplements. Alternative medicines may sometimes draw a scoff from followers of conventional medical practice, but the fact is that the only thing that separates most of them from conventional cures is a relative lack of conclusive (causal) evidence around their curative abilities. As such, a good number of the conventional medicament we currently have were in fact formerly alternative ones too, once upon a time.
Every year, certain herbal or alternative medicines get a little more attention or interest than others. It could be due to a sudden news report triggering renewed interest, it could be due to an outreach campaign from suppliers. Whatever the reason, there are always alternative medicines that gain more media and public interest than others each year. For 2012, it was the following:
- Kratom – Analgesic, euphoria-inducing, sedative, yet stimulating. Kratom is largely used in the US as a palliative for those suffering from chronic pains, and has also gained attention for its use in helping opium addicts trying to give up the habit.
- Kefir ‒ A yoghurt-like drink from the Caucasus, kefir has been getting more and more attention from health food buffs of late as more importers bring it to other countries. The drink is touted for its probiotic effects, as the “good bacteria” in it (comparable to lactobacilli) are said to help with nutrient digestion.
- St. John’s Wort – This has been getting steadily more attention as time goes on and people search for new ways to combat depression. It has been traditionally prescribed in a fair number of European countries for some years now as a possible help for depressives, and a growing body of research suggests that it might be as effective as conventional medications for dealing with depression and anxiety.
- Echinacea – A popular herb for people seeking an alternative remedy to colds as well as bacterial and viral complaints, it is believed to have immune-system-boosting properties.
- Aloe Vera – Already well-known for its usage in topical medicine and the treatment of burns, renewed interest in it is being seen due to new postulations about it being a potential aid in the healing of other types of wounds and in preventing burns that may have been caused by radiation therapy.