question: which factors influence the use of complementary and alternative medicine?

alternative-medicine-300x200

In the latter part of the 20th century, the validity of social sciences became widely accepted. Some branches of social science researchers researched and documented the role of complementary and alternative medicine [CAM] in society. Their actions helped to address the issues of missing data and evidence to support medical claims, which contributed to a rise in their use. Dr. Ernst, the first professor of CAM credits peoples’ belief that CAM is a safer, natural alternative to traditional medicine and the notion that the constraints of regulations in the allopathic medical field prevent practitioners from treating the whole body and encouraging an overall sense of well-being to an increase in use.

Since that time, there have been a number of studies aimed at understanding why people reject or embrace CAM. At the most basic level, many are looking for a treatment that encompasses the whole body, allows them to feel and look good, and produces a complete idea of self to negotiate their identity in society. It has also been suggested that the conceptualization of health is changing, leading to a shift in preferred treatment methods. For example, patients are seeking out ways to become empowered participants in their health, rather than the passive devalued products of the scientific medical community. As people reject the traditional “sick role”, they feel they are establishing themselves as individuals and “voting with their feet” when they seek out alternative forms of treatment. The sick role is:

  • The medical view of illness as deviance from the biological norm of health
  • The diagnosis of disease results from a correlation of observable symptoms with knowledge about the physiological functioning of the human being
  • Involves a social judgment about what is right and proper behavior

Disposable income appears to be one of the most influential factors in the United States, mostly because alternative medicine is not generally covered by health insurance. Many also view CAM as a luxury, rather than a part of their actual healthcare. Individuals in higher socioeconomic brackets are also used to having more resources and therefore control over their lives, enabling them to be more selective in their approach their healthcare. Those with fewer economic resources have a limited number of choices for their healthcare and are not able to consume luxuries and therefore less likely to report CAM use.

cultural medicine

Conversely, there is some evidence showing that people who cannot access “normal” forms of healthcare must use CAM. Others may also opt to reject allopathic medicine because it does not align with their cultural beliefs or because they wish to maintain their cultural heritage. There is also evidence suggesting that members of the non-dominant culture receive subpar care from the biomedical community so they seek out care elsewhere. Those who cite racial discrimination as a reason for their CAM use report that they seek it out to reassert control and self-direction over their health.

An individual or group’s culture and ethnicity also influence the type of CAM used. For example, Blacks and Hispanics are most likely to engage in prayer, Asians are most likely to engage in the use of mind-body interventions and energy therapies, and Whites are most likely to engage in manipulative and body-based therapies. Again, consumption choices are tied to culture. However, individuals who have immigrated to the United States are less likely to consume CAM. There are a number of potential reasons for this, including a lack of exposure to various CAM treatments in their native countries, the cost associated with CAM use, a lack of ability to communicate with healthcare professionals, low utilization of healthcare in general [either because they are healthier than their American natives (which is generally the case) or because they do not have access to CAM]. Immigrants may also believe that medical treatment in America should be provided by the allopathic medical community, especially if they come from a country where allopathic medicine is also dominant.

gender

Gender also influences the consumption of CAM, with women being more likely to use CAM than men. Their reasons are varied and include personal beliefs [which are influenced by (or a lack of) education and disposable income], a lack of results or undesirable side effects from traditional medicine [patient dissatisfaction], doctor recommendations, social influences, and advertising. Hispanic women cite family recommendations their most influential factor; White women cite personal beliefs [often that CAM is more natural], and Black women cite advertising. The issue of advertising influencing the Black community raises public health issues about the reliability of promotional information. This is of particular concern, not only for the Black community but society as a whole, because advertising and fewer regulations from CAM have contributed to a dangerous rise in use:

 

“The relaxed rules for health claims allowed supplement marketers to target messages to the specific concerns of the 80 million Baby Boomers who, as they reached middle age, became even more interested in self-care, more distrustful of conventional medicine, and more resentful of the increasingly impersonal nature of the managed care health system”. 

– Marion Nestle

In the end, however, the factor most strongly influencing CAM use is when an individual suffers from a chronic disease or ailments like back pain, irritable bowel syndrome, a disability, or HIV. Members of this demographic tend to view CAM as a component of self-management of care, a pragmatic approach to living as well as possible, a means to take responsibility for their well-being, and because they recognize a value in the cognitive and attitudinal approach to wellness. However, those who suffer from chronic illness tend not to perceive CAM as an unrealistic means to a cure or as a rejection of allopathic medicine.

sources:

 

image credit:

  • themedicalportal.com
  • cavsconnect.com
  • mexicolore.com.uk

question: how are plants propagated?

New plants are created via plant propagation of which there are two types: sexual and asexual.

With sexual propagation, there are two sources of parental DNA resulting in the creation of a third living organism. Sexual propagation involves the floral components of the plant and is the result of the pollination of megagametophyte (egg). There are two types of sexual reproduction.

The first is open pollination, in which the seed produced will be identical to the genetically identical parent plants. Such plants have been inbred (see also the purpose of plant breeding and selection and why it is a never-ending story) to propagate the best qualities of a given variety. All heirloom plants are open-pollinated. The second form of sexual production is hybridization which occurs when two plant varieties are crossed to produce offspring with the best genetic traits of each parent plant (ex. one variety has powdery mildew resistance and one is drought tolerant). The F1 (first) generation plant will exhibit the positive effects of the inter-breedings. However, the following generations (F2, etc.) will produce unpredictable offspring.

The second form of sexual production is hybridization which occurs when two plant varieties are crossed to produce offspring with the best genetic traits of each parent plant (ex. one variety has powdery mildew resistance and one is drought tolerant). The F1 (first) generation plant will exhibit the positive effects of the inter-breedings. However, the following generations (F2, etc.) will produce unpredictable offspring.

how-do-plants-reproduce-sexually1
Sexual Reproduction, Photo Credit: b4Fa.org

Success in sexual propagation is not guaranteed and largely dependent on appropriate temperature, water, light, and oxygen levels. For example, if the temperature is too high, it is likely that the blossoms will drop preventing fertilization and ultimately reproduction. Sexual propagation is considered the more cost-effective form of propagation. Likewise, it is a way of preventing the transference of disease from the parent plant to offspring.

Asexual propagation occurs when a piece of a parent plant is removed from the parent plant and regenerates to create a new plant that is genetically identical to the parental plant. Such a form of propagation can be considered cloning. Common methods include grafts, separation, dividing, layering, and cuttings.

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Plant Cutting, Photo Credit: pubs.ext.vt.edu

sources:
https://extension.umaine.edu/gardening/master-gardeners/manual/propagation/plant-propagation/
http://www.cropsreview.com/plant-propagation.html

geoengineering explained: the benefits and challenges of biochar

Biochar, a form of carbon dioxide sequestration (SDR), is a solid material obtained from the carbonization of biomass. This produces a highly porous charcoal. The biomass is then buried in order to lock the carbon into the soil which can improve soil functions and the CO2 typically produced by the natural degradation of biomass is reduced. This practice is over 2,000 years old and biochar can be found throughout the world as a result of forest fires and historic soil management practices.

BENEFITS

CHALLENGES

  • Slows actual climate change, rather than actively changing the climate itself
  • Slows the rate of ocean acidification
  • Enhances the soil and can be made from waste products, such as chicken manure
  • Sustainable biochar practices can produce oil and gas byproducts that can be used as fuel, providing clean, renewable energy
  • Measurable and verifiable carbon sequestration value
  • Competes with global fuel and food production
  • Will not prevent sea-level rises
  • Has questionable efficacy and is predicted to only have the ability to offset 10 percent of the warming caused by increases in CO2

see also:

Question: What is geoengineering?

Albedo Enhancement

Space Reflectors
Stratospheric Aerosols

Afforestation
Ambient Air Capture
Biochar
Bioenergy Capture and Sequestration
Ocean Fertilization
Enhanced Weathering
Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement

sources:
Initiative, I. B. (2014). What is Biochar? Retrieved from biochar-international.org: http://www.biochar-international.org/biochar
Ippolito, J. a. (2011, March 3-4). Biochar usage: pros and cons. Retrieved from http://eprints.nwisrl.ars.usda.gov/1522/
LePage, M. (2012, September 20). The pros and cons of geoengineering. 

geoengineering explained: the benefits and challenges of enhanced weathering

Enhanced weathering is the process of exposing large quantities of minerals that are reactive with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and storing the resulting compound in the ocean or soil. It is considered a form of carbon dioxide removal or CDR.

BENEFITS

CHALLENGES

  • Has the potential to increase terrestrial and oceanic net productivity
  • Can be used to improve agricultural output
  • Dependent on fossil fuels for execution which may reduce overall efficacy
  • Insufficient data and inability to accurately predict how fluxes in nutrients will impact Earth’s various systems
  • Applications of rock powder to the land’s surface may increase overall dust
  • The mobilization of potentially toxic chemicals from silicate rocks may detrimentally affect the food chain

see also:

Question: What is geoengineering?

Albedo Enhancement

Space Reflectors
Stratospheric Aerosols

Afforestation
Ambient Air Capture
Biochar
Bioenergy Capture and Sequestration
Ocean Fertilization
Enhanced Weathering
Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement

source:
Jens Hartmann, A. J.-G. (2013, May 23). Enhanced chemical weathering as a geoengineering strategy to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide, supply nutrients, and mitigate ocean acidification. Review of Geophysics, pp. 113-149. 

geoengineering explained: the benefits and challenges of ocean alkalinity enhancement

Ocean alkalinity enhancement is increasements in the ocean’s alkalinity via the exposure of large quantities of reactive minerals to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The resulting compounds are then stored in the ocean or soil. This form of geoengineering is known as carbon dioxide removal (CDR).

BENEFITS

CHALLENGES

  • Increased solubility of CO2 in ocean waters
  • Sequestered carbon becomes inorganic carbon that stays in the ocean permanently
  • Expensive [estimates at more than 1 trillion USD]
  • There is a lack of infrastructure needed to effectively facilitate the transformation from limestone to quicklime
  • Has the potential to release more CO2 into the atmosphere if proper storage and capture facilities are not established
  • Can be harmful to biotic aquatic systems
  • Alkalinity must be significantly increased to produce worthwhile results

see also:

Question: What is geoengineering?

Albedo Enhancement

Space Reflectors
Stratospheric Aerosols

Afforestation
Ambient Air Capture
Biochar
Bioenergy Capture and Sequestration
Ocean Fertilization
Enhanced Weathering
Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement

sources:

Ian S F Jones, C. H. (2003, May). Engineering Carbon Sequestration in the Ocean. Retrieved from http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/proceedings/03/carbon-seq/PDFs/111.pdf
Francois S. Paquay, R. E. (2013, May 9). Assessing possible consequences of ocean liming on ocean pH, atmospheric CO2 concentration and associated costs. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, pp. 183-188. Retrieved from http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/oceanography/faculty/zeebe_files/Publications/Paquay13.pdf

geoengineering explained: the benefits and challenges of stratospheric aerosols

Stratospheric aerosols are minute particles suspended in the atmosphere designed for solar radiation management (SRM). When these particles are sufficiently large, their presence becomes noticeable as they scatter and absorb sunlight, which can reduce visibility (haze) and redden sunrises and sunsets. Aerosols interact both directly and indirectly with the Earth’s radiation budget and climate. As a direct effect, the aerosols scatter sunlight directly back into space. As an indirect effect, aerosols in the lower atmosphere can modify the size of cloud particles, changing how the clouds reflect and absorb sunlight, thereby affecting the earth’s energy budget. Aerosols can also act as sites for chemical reactions to take place. Stratospheric aerosols introduce small, reflective particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect some sunlight before it reaches the surface of the Earth. This is accomplished by releasing sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere.

BENEFITS

CHALLENGES

  • Very potent method and could off-set all the warming from the doubling of CO2
  • Affordable and relatively easy
  • Proven effective by large, natural volcanic eruptions
  • As with all sunshade schemes, overall rainfall is reduced
  • Regional weather climates will be dramatically affected which may cause dangerous outcomes, such as famine
  • Doesn’t cool poles to pre-industrial temperatures, so polar ice sheets will continue to melt
  • Will not prevent ocean acidification
  • Sky will become whiter
  • Without efforts to reduce overall CO2 production, the planet would warm rapidly if we stopped injecting SO2 into the stratosphere

see also:

Question: What is geoengineering?

Albedo Enhancement

Space Reflectors
Stratospheric Aerosols

Afforestation
Ambient Air Capture
Biochar
Bioenergy Capture and Sequestration
Ocean Fertilization
Enhanced Weathering
Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement

source:
LePage, M. (2012, September 20). The pros and cons of geoengineering. Retrieved from New Scientist: http://www.newscientist.com/gallery/geoengineering/

geoengineering explained: the benefits and challenges of space reflectors

Space reflectors, a form of solar radiation management (SRM), are sun shields positioned in space in order to reduce the amount of solar energy reaching the earth. Options include placing mirrors around the earth, placing millions of reflectors between the earth and the sun where the gravitational attraction between the two bodies is equal, launching a “cloud” of trillions of refracting discs or launching a sunshade of mesh aluminum threads.

BENEFITS

CHALLENGES

  • The theorized sun protection would be enough to stop global warming
  • Expensive [estimated at several trillion dollars]
  • Experimental technology with unforeseen consequences
  • Will take 25 years or longer to complete
  • Effects would be uneven with the tropics cooling and the polar regions warming

see also:

Question: What is geoengineering?

Albedo Enhancement

Space Reflectors
Stratospheric Aerosols

Afforestation
Ambient Air Capture
Biochar
Bioenergy Capture and Sequestration
Ocean Fertilization
Enhanced Weathering
Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement

sources:
Physics, I. I., RSC, & Engineering, T. R. (2009, July 15). Geoengineering: challenges and global impacts. Retrieved from http://www.rsc.org