Alternative Medicine Essay, Research Paper
Millions of North Americans have come to trust the accomplishments of medical science to care for their fragile bodies. Why should they not? Using the scientific method, doctors have made it possible to bypass your coronary arteries; to change your heart valves; and to repair or replace your heart, liver and kidneys and most of your joints. Cosmetic surgeons can leave you looking half your age. Your genes can be manipulated, and several inherited disease can be prevented or cured. Infections that used to kill can be treated with powerful antibiotics. There are drugs to control any sort of pain, restore your sex drive, open your airways to your lungs, melt gallstones, and end migraine attacks. There are machines that can regulate your heart and tiny ones to restore your lost hearing. Conventional medicine has seemed to save our society from dying off. But even after all these accomplishments people are now to looking for an alternative to the pills and machines.
Only a decade ago, alternative medicine in America was a bunch of unrecognized theories used by hippies and New Age enthusiasts. Like the environmental movement alternative medicine has now become an accepted part of mainstream culture. The rise in interest in alternative medicine can be due to a number of factors. The enlightenment of the 1960 s generation to the decline in trust for the medical community are just some of the suggestions. Also there are many questions relating to the health and well being of not only the physical body but of the mind and soul as well. Medical theory has helped to fix a lot of the problems that have developed in our bodies, but instead of our society getting better, more and more people are suffering from clogged arteries, cataracts, kidney and liver failure. Degenerative diseases like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer s disease, and AIDS are more abundant than ever. Now both sick and healthy people alike are searching for a way to not only cure their illnesses but to prevent the disease before it starts, which is not always the goal with conventional medicine. In 1993 the famous Eisenburg study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that one-third of all Americans now use some alternative treatments, and are spending billions of dollars in the process.
What is alternative medicine? Alternative medicine can be defined as any form of healing for the mind, body or spirit that does not use traditional medicine involving machines or drugs. There are many choices in finding the right kind of treatment. Unfortunately medical doctors are not trained in the field of alternative medicine, and most do not care to be. Most doctors are reluctant to even consider the idea of something that in not based on scientific fact. One of the reasons is that doctors are taught to rely on facts, not rumours. Also by providing an alternative to medical science, doctors are afraid that people will abandon other treatments that have been proven to work. Another theory is that doctors and the medical culture are scared to turn to alternatives because then they will no longer be needed, resulting in a threat to their income. But, as society changes, doctors are having to change their traditional ways to meet the demand for knowledge in the ways of alternative medicine. Currently the only real way to educate oneself in the field of alternative medicine is through self teaching with books and practitioners of alternative medicine.
Natural medicine is the first and foremost principle inspiring alternative medicine. Natural is considered to be anything that comes from the earth and does no contain anything man-made. This desire for natural medicine wells up from not only the environmental movement but the desire to reconnect with the earth and find ones roots. This need to connect with the earth is approached differently by many people. Some choose to wear only all cotton clothing and natural products, others join groups to promote environmental awareness and another might choose to utilize herbs and only eat organically grown fruits and vegetables. A lot of people just want to get away from the throbbing and beeping of the technology spurting up all around them. Practitioners of alternative medicine choose herbs over man-made drugs, not only because of their amazing benefits, but because it comes from the earth and is more wholesome then some pill formulated in a lab. These people feel as though drugs pollute their bodies the same way artificial fertilizers and pesticides pollute the world. Practitioners of natural medicine when given the choice between a highly effective chemical treatment and a mildly effective herbal one will always choose the latter. Medical doctors do not understand this concept. They believe that nature is the enemy, and that the purpose of their practice is to correct nature s errors, to guard against nature s dangers and to supplement nature s weaknesses. To trust nature is not an concept of conventional medicine. Doctors do not believe that nature created herbs for the purpose of healing. If a herb possesses any healing properties then they believe that it does so accidentally. Doctors need to understand nature if they expect to heal their clients. Nature is not the enemy, we are. If we lived in a society where we respected nature and lived with it instead of fighting it then we would not have all the disease and illnesses that we have today. As we become more reliant on technology and man-created substances we become increasingly ill. The medical problems that exist today did not exist one hundred years ago. Nature did not cause clogged arteries or kidney failure. Nature did not put toxic substances in our air and water. Nature did provide us with a safe and clean environment, which we in turn ruined. To have a healthy society we need to give back to nature and listen to what it is telling us. Natural medicine is a step in the right direction.
Holistic medicine in another main entity in alternative medicine. The extreme specialization of conventional medicine has caused many people to seek out alternative practitioners who will see them as whole human beings, as opposed to an organ. Holistic practitioners consider that the mind, body and spirit to be one, and in order to heal the body one must first understand and heal the mind. Practitioners of holistic medicine do not use medication because they believe that the body can heal itself through the mind. Good health is a positive state, not merely an absence of disease. Prevention is the first priority. They teach to pay more attention to the impact of the environment on the body, examining more thoroughly the kind of food you are eating, whether of not you smoke, how much you drink, how much you exercise, and how happy you are in life. Conventional medicine does look at some of these aspects, but in treating the body medical doctors often wound their patients by not looking at them on an emotional and spiritual level. When a patient visits a holistic doctor, they not only receive help for their physical body but for their mind as well. It is common knowledge that our mind controls our body. We see this through our everyday actions, such as walking or eating. So if our mind is directly connected to our body, we must make sure that our mind is well so our body can survive. Medical science, although it does not condone holism, has proved the mind/body connection with the use of placebos. Placebos do not contain any medical ingredients, but are in fact in most cases made up of sugar. Medical doctors prescribe these to patients who have not responded to former treatment and are just searching for another drug. In most cases the patient is cured by this pill because their mind told the body that it was getting well. As the understanding that the mind is directly related to our body, we will begin to cure ourselves.
Wellness promotion in alternative medicine is another way in maintaining good health. Alternative practitioners have made the conclusion that it is impossible to produce good health with drugs. Man-made drugs prescribed by medical doctors can fight illnesses, but in fighting that illness they also cause feelings of discomfort rather than that of good health. Every drug has a least one side effect. These can include: malaise, drowsiness, headache, nausea, insomnia, dry mouth or sexual dysfunction. Medical treatment usually solves one problem, but then causes a variety of smaller ones. Alternative medicine does exactly the opposite. It uses treatments such as: mediation, yoga, tai chi, healthy venting of emotions, following your bliss, laughter and avoiding medical doctors altogether to promote wellness. This causes the patient to receive and maintain an overall feeling of well-being. Tonic herbs are another way to promote good health and strengthen the body. Ginseng (China), suma (Brazil), and gentian (Europe) are all tonic herbs used to strengthen one or another body system. There are no equivalents in Western medicine. All of Western medication reduces the symptoms of the illness but does not help to strengthen the weak area of the body. In contrast, tonic herbs function more like exercise and good nutrition for that body part. They are intended to improve health in a way that will last even after the treatment is stopped. With wellness promotion there is no need for drugs.
With all of the benefits of alternative medicine it is surprising that conventional medicine has not been abolished already. The problem is that most people do not know about the alternatives that are available to them. Medical doctors need to be educated in the field of alternative medicine so they can better help their patients. Also many people are afraid to try something new, especially treatments that are not recognized by the medical community. More research and promotion needs to be put into alternative medicine in order to show society the option that they posses. Taking drugs seems a lot easier to most then trying to have a better mental state. With the promotion of alternative medicine conventional medicine will be a thing of the past.