Knocking at Alternate Doors: Survey of Android-Based Smartphone Applications for Alternate Medicines

Knocking at Alternate Doors: Survey of Android-Based Smartphone Applications for Alternate Medicines

Rafiullah Khan (The University of Agriculture, Peshawar, Pakistan), Mohib Ullah (The University of Agriculture, Peshawar, Pakistan), Bushra Shafi (The University of Agriculture, Peshawar, Pakistan), Urooj Beenish Orakzai (Government Girls Degree College, Peshawar, Pakistan) and Seema Shafi (Charssada Homeopathic Medical College, Pakistan)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2521-0.ch002

Abstract

Despite the extraordinary progression in modern medicines, alternative medicine has always been practiced. Alternative medicine or complementary medicine is a term referring to any practice that aims to achieve healing effects using pseudoscience or without biological explanation. The major drawback of alternative medicine is that these medicines are not scientifically tested as claimed by different studies. Nevertheless, according to the World Health Organization, more than 70% of the population of developing countries prefer alternative medicine systems. In this work, a review of ten most popular Android based smartphone applications that belongs to two most popular alternative medicines systems i.e. Homeopathy and Ayurveda are presented. The apps are selected based on the number of reviews, user rating, and the number of downloads provided by Google's play store. From the reviews of users, it was noted that most of the users are satisfied with the selected smartphone app. Based on this fact, it can be implicitly concluded that these medical systems can effectively solve user health-related issues.
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1. Introduction

With the evaluation and development in the societies of different civilizations, the approach to the disease and illness also evolved. The current medical practices are based on the approaches introduced and evolved in different societies such as the concepts of diagnosis and prognosis introduced in India (Wikipedia, n.d.b), medical ethics in Greece (the famous Hippocratic Oath (Hulkower, 2016)), extensive work on human anatomy and surgery by Muslim scholars (Rosenthal, 2015) and many others. Although the invention of the microscope revolutionized the medical practices, still there are still a number of alternative medicines systems are still in practice that follow old healing philosophy. According to one estimate, more than 80% of the population of the developing countries prefer alternative medicines (Bodeker & Kronenberg, 2002). The major reasons behind their preference are faith in the healer, family pressure, religious and spiritual belief, affordable fee and medicine, lack of awareness, proximity, availability, and many others. However, one cannot deny the success stories of some alternative medical systems such as homeopathy and herb-based medicines (Ayurveda, Hakeem, etc.). Since herbs have their own effect on the human body which is verified by scientists. This work presents a review of the major smartphone applications based on alternative medicine practices.

Alternative Medicine or Complementary Medicine is a term referring to any practice that aims to achieve the healing effect using pseudoscience or without biological explanation (contributors). The major drawback of alternative medicine is that these medicines are not scientifically tested as claimed by different studies (contributors). Furthermore, the research in alternative treatments often fails to follow standard scientific experimental protocols. According to some researchers, alternative medicine is usually based on tradition, supernatural energies, pseudoscience, religion, or other unscientific sources (Beyerstein, 2001; Durant, Evans, & Thomas, 1989; Hines, 1988; Sampson, 1995). Yet a survey conducted in the United States reports that 38.3% of adults use alternative medicine in 2007 which was 36% in 2002 (Barnes, Bloom, & Nahin, 2008).

Based on their philosophy and employed methods the National Center on Complementary and Integrative Health classify the complementary or alternative medicine into five major classes (Shorofi & Arbon, 2017): (i) Whole medical systems (e.g. Homeopathy, and Ayurveda), (ii) Mind-body intervention (e.g. cognitive behavioral therapy), (iii) Biology-based practices, (iv) Manipulative and body-based practices, and (v) Energy medicines (e.g. Bio-electromagnetic therapies). In this work, we present the review of most popular Android-based smartphone applications that belongs to the two most popular alternative medicines systems i.e. Homeopathy and Ayurveda.

The rest of the chapter is organized as follows: In Section 2 we present a brief introduction, way of treatment and survey of smartphone apps related to Homeopathic way of treatment. Section 3 gives a brief introduction, way of treatment and survey of smartphone apps related to Ayurvedic way of treatment. While the conclusion is presented in section 4.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Repertory: Homeopathic repertory is an index of symptoms, listed in an order with their associated remedies. It is also defined as the logically and systematically arranged index to the Homeopathic Materia Medica that also contains the information collected from clinical experience and research. It is also known as the link between diseases and Materia Medica.

Integrative Medicine (IM): Integrative Medicine is healing oriented medicine system that consider whole person including his/her lifestyle. Integrated or Integrative Medicine (IM) is also known as Complementary Medicine (CM).

Google Play: Google play is official online market for android based apps or software. Google Play allows users to browse and download different android based application. Google Play also provide a large variety of apps for other electronic android based devices such as smart TV, digital camera, gaming consoles etc.

Vedas: According to the Hindu religion, Vedas (singular “Veda”) are a collection religious text composed in Sanskrit. Hindus belief that Vedas are authorless in fact Veda are revelations seen by ancient sages after meditation. There are four collections of Vedas, the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda, and the Atharvaveda.

Smartphone App: Smart phone app is a mobile phone application software or computer program that is designed to run on mobile devices to perform some specific task. These apps are usually available at online store operated by owner of mobile phone operating system.

Ayurveda: Ayurveda or Ayurvedic medicine system is classified as complementary or Alternate Medical system by United States National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine (NCCIH). Ayurveda is one of the oldest medical system originate from Indian subcontinent in 6th century BC and still popular in India and other countries.

Holistic Medicine: Holistic Medicine is another kind of Alternative Medicine that claim to take into account a “whole person” including body, mind, and spirit, as compare to the supposed reductionism of medicine. Similarly, according to American Holistic Health Association (AHHA) holistic medicines integrates alternative and conventional therapies to prevent and treat disease as well as to promote optimal health.

Android: Android is open source Linux kernel based operating mobile platform based smart gadgets such as tablets, phones etc. Apart from mobile platform, variants android operating systems are also available for other electronic devices such, smart TV, PC, cameras, gaming consoles, wearable devices etc.

Medical App: Medical app is a smart phone application software or program that is designed to give medical related information to the user such suggestions of therapies and medicine, information about condition and diseases, new medical research etc.

Complementary Medicine (CM): A kind of alternative medicine used together with other functional treatment with the belief to improve the effect of functional medicine is called Complementary Medicine. It is also abbreviated as CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine).

Homeopathic: Homeopathy or Homoeopathic is medical system classified as complementary or Alternate Medical system by United States National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine (NCCIH). This system was created by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796 and its philosophy is based on phrase “ like cure like ”.

Materia Medica: Materia Medica is a collection of reliable, pure, and real methods of action of a simple medicinal substances in Homeopathy way of treatments”. In other words, Materia Medica is an encyclopedia of purported therapeutic properties of each Homeopathic medicine.

Alternate Medicine: Alternate or alternative medicine term is refer to the medicine system, theories and practices that are scientifically untested and lacks the biological plausibility instead they rely on pseudoscience and some supernatural phenomena. While according to the definition of United States National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine (NCCIH), a group of products, practices, and health care systems that are not generally considered as part of conventional medicines are called Alternative Medicine Systems.

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