Alternative medicine is, by definition, an alternative to something else: modern, Western medicine. But the term ‘alternative’ can be misleading, even off-putting for some people.

Few practitioners of homeopathy, acupuncture, herbalism, and the like regard their therapies as complete substitutes for modern medicine. Rather, they consider their disciplines as supplementary to orthodox medicine.

The problem is that many doctors refuse even to recognize ‘natural’ or alternative medicine; otherwise, they will have to call for a radically different view of health, illness, and cure. But whatever doctors may think, the demand for alternative forms of medical therapy is stronger than ever before, as the limitations of modern medical science become more widely understood.

Alternative therapies are often dismissed by orthodox medicine because they are sometimes administered by people with no formal medical training. But, in comparison with many traditional therapies, western medicine as we know it today is a very recent phenomenon. Until only 150 years ago, herbal medicine and simple inorganic compounds were the most effective treatments available.

Despite the medical establishment’s intolerant attitude, alternative therapies are being accepted by more and more doctors, and the World Health Organization has agreed to promote the integration of proven, valuable, ‘alternative’ knowledge and skills in western medicine.

Questions (All your answers should be taken from the text)

A. Answer the following questions.

  1. Why are alternative therapies often rejected by conventional doctors?
  2. Why is the demand for alternative medicine gradually increasing?
  3. What is the World Health Organisation’s view of alternative medicine?

B. Are the following statements true or false? Justify 

  1. Nowadays, more and more people are asking for alternative medicine.
  2. Herbal medicine has been the most effective treatment available for 50 years.
  3. Alternative medicine has never been used.

C. Find in the text words or phrases meaning almost the same as

  1. deceptive        (paragraph 1)
  2. consider         (paragraph 2)
  3. to encourage   (paragraph 5)

D. Choose a, b, or c, in each question below. Only one choice is correct

     1. Alternative therapies

           a) are well regarded by the medical establishment.

           b) are integrated into western medicine nowadays.

           c) are becoming more popular with many doctors.

     2. Western medicine

           a) has existed for a comparatively short time.

           b) is based on many traditional therapies.

           c) is practiced by people with no formal medical training.

     3. The World Health Organization

           a) has an intolerant attitude towards alternative therapies.

           b) agrees with all alternative medicine.

           c) will support effective traditional knowledge and skills.

 E. What do these words in the text refer to?

  1. they     (paragraph 2)                    
  2. 2. it      (paragraph 4)

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