While conventional health care is still thought by many to be the primary option for treating an illness, particularly in the United States, many people throughout the world seek alternative medical solutions to their physical ailments. In fact, alternative medicine is now becoming a widely accepted form of health care. Much of this acceptance has been prompted by a worldwide crisis in terms of quality health care, a crisis that has taken hold of the United States as well as Third World and developing nations. Prohibitively expensive conventional medical care has prompted many people to seek alternative means to cure their ailments. Often times, this decision is motivated by more than a lack of health insurance. People suffering from chronic (long-lasting or frequently recurring) conditions or life-threatening diseases will often seek out alternative treatment when they have exhausted all the possibilities that conventional care has to offer and have found those possibilities to be inadequate.
What is interesting about the growing acceptance of alternative medicine is that practices now deemed "alternative" were for thousands of years considered standard medical practices. However, as world population continues to expand and health care concerns grow, it is likely that alternative treatments will continue to expand in popularity and acceptance by lay (non-medical) persons and medical professionals alike.
Alternative medicine includes systems of medical care such as homeopathy and naturopathy, as well as acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy, reflexology, and yoga, all of which are explained in the sections that follow.