Alternative medicine

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Chemotherapy, organ transplants, heart surgeries are some of the modern day miracles, which make possible for people to live longer, healthier lives. And so are treatments like Reiki, acupuncture, hypnosis, aromatherapy and herbal remedies – all ancient methods of medicine that have been used to heal patients for centuries.

Two major surveys have indicated that use of alternative treatments is increasing in the United States. One survey in 1990 found that 33.8% of Americans were using some form of alternative medicine and a later survey by the same individual, Dr. David Eisenberg, found that use had increased to 42.1% in 1997. That means at least one in two or three people seek alternative treatment for their illnesses.

So what makes them all seek this alternative assistance with increasing confidence? The Michigan Center in the USA wanted to find out why people turn to alternative methods, especially if they have some of the best of modern medicine available to them.

One of the doctors involved in the research said that: “What we’ve found from our one-on-one interviews and surveys is that people, for example who had a heart attack, begin to re-evaluate their life when their health changes. And that often leads them to see their health in a new way, often beyond conventional methods.”

While there is little doubt that traditional medicine works well in the case of trauma and emergency (you don’t call your herbalist if you get hit by a car), it is not so effective when it comes to prevention, chronic disease, and in addressing the mental and emotional needs of an individual.

So let’s examine some major reasons why people go beyond orthodox medicine.

– Focus on sophisticated technology and strong drugs with harmful side effects

The traditional medical attitude is to focus on the disease and its cure by using pharmaceutical drugs, surgery or sophisticated technology and equipment. However, by the increasing use of modern medicine, unfortunately too many ‘accidents’ and side effects are happening as well, such as silicone leaking from breast implants, surgeries going terribly wrong, side effects of chemotherapy, radiations or strong antibiotics.

– Emphasis on cure of symptoms rather than prevention or treatment of the cause

The doctors tend to focus on curing the signs and symptoms of the illness (ex. alleviate throat pain and coughing), rather than prevention or finding the actual causes for the illnesses.

– Patients should be passive receivers of treatments

Many doctors dislike the patient asking too many questions or speaking about the illness with the practitioner. They tend to have an authoritarian attitude towards the patients, and in our modern world, where information is everything, patients do want to actively participate in the treatment process and want to take responsibility for their own health.

– High cost of traditional therapies

Whilst patients are often kept at a distance with regards to what cure they should be following, they are held responsible for the sometimes incredible costs of treatment. Also, while only a small percentage of people are able to afford the latest and most modern treatment procedures, the masses are often left without even the most basic care.

Therefore to most of the world’s population, over 80 per cent to be precise, alternative medicine is not “alternative” at all, but rather the basis of the health care system, as it is within reach and it has low costs. And we do not need any scientific proof for this last point, but our own everyday examples:

I remember in childhood, when my stomach was upset, my mom always used to give me chamomile tea to drink. Or when having a bad cold, hot herbal tea with lots of honey in it, or the very famous chicken soup which was given to us for breakfast, lunch or dinner? Or the use of aromatherapy by my mom who was rubbing my chest every night with eucalyptus oil so that the lungs get cleared up. These are just some examples and I am not even sure that my mom was actually aware that she was exercising a form or another of alternative healing methods on me, methods which actually proved to work.

Therefore I think that we should not ignore completely the power of alternative medicine, but of course, we should not use it entirely on its own either. Knowing when to use the traditional method and when to go for the alternative method is very important in keeping us healthy throughout our lives.

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