Medicine is the study, art, and science of treating a patient in the medical arena and caring for his or her ailment. Medicine covers a wide range of medical practices developed to keep and restore good health by the preventative and therapeutic treatment or palliation of disease. It includes the study of the body’s mechanisms of disease and proper diagnosis of the underlying cause. The objective of medicine is to promote the well-being of the patient by providing care, relief, and rehabilitation of the patient.
The major components of medicine include pharmacology, diagnostic procedures, preventive measures, therapeutic measures, and complementary medicines. Among all the three, complementary medicines are used most commonly by health practitioners all over the world. Complementary medicines include ayurvedic medicines, classical medicine, herbal medicines, nutrition, homeopathic medicines, physical therapies, and several other forms of alternative medicines. Ayurvedic medicines are used to treat disorders like nausea and vomiting, pain, stress, inflammation, constipation, cramps, gout, acne, arthritis, allergies, heart diseases, and many more. A special system is designed for herbal treatment that integrates ancient methods of healing with modern approaches. Ayurvedic medicines and Chinese herbs (especially ginseng and guarana) are highly used in Ayurvedic hospitals and complementary medicines centers all over the world.
Classical medicine, on the other hand, treats a disease through the intervention of the body’s organs. Drug action occurs when the drug enters the body through the bloodstream to affect the target organ. Medicines like penicillin have action in the mouse liver, kidney, pancreas, stomach, and blood vessels. In contrast, drugs in Chinese herbal formulas have little or no drug activity in these organs.
Nowadays, the trend is to use complementary medicine or traditional medicine to complement or substitute clinical trials. This strategy has been implemented by health insurance companies to avoid prescribing drugs that may cause harm to the patients. Some companies allow “off label” use of herbal remedies in place of prescription drugs. Thus, patients can gain access to the beneficial effects of alternative medicines without fear of damaging their health. One advantage of complementary medicine is that its side effects are very mild and often non-existent. Moreover, some studies have shown that patients’ self-diagnosis, careful monitoring of symptoms, and use of appropriate therapy, lead to significant improvements in their condition.
Apart from being used to complement or substitute the effects of clinical trials, complementary medicines are also sold over the counter in different forms like liquids, capsules, pills, and creams. Most of these medicines have active ingredients that are derived from plants or herbs. These herbal or plant extracts are used to improve the absorption of dietary nutrients like calcium, iron, and other trace minerals. Moreover, these medicines are also effective in improving the functioning of the digestive system, improving skin quality, promoting hair growth and increasing sex drive. Herbal medicines can be used as a treatment for mild or chronic conditions that have no major side effects. Nevertheless, care should be taken to follow the right dosage of these medicines as they may cause side effects if taken in high doses.
Apart from these medicines, essential medicines form a major part of the management of many diseases like tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, meningitis, herpes, cancer, arthritis, epilepsy, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, etc. Therapeutic value of therapeutic drugs can vary widely according to the type of disease and the medicinal effect desired. However, the primary aim of therapeutic drugs is to relieve the symptoms of a disease and to prevent the recurrence of the disease in a rational manner. Therefore, primary healthcare providers prescribe drugs that are effective in relieving the symptoms of a disease.