Four Winds

Understanding Alternative Medicine

According to David M. Eisenberg, M.D. of Harvard Medical School, alternative medicines are "medical interventions not taught widely at U.S. medical schools or generally available at U.S. hospitals". 
The term alternative medicine can also be considered a code word for a series of significant series and challenges occurring within the American health care system today including the following: The realization that conventional biomedicine (i.e. antibiotics, prescription drugs, invasive surgery, chemotherapy) cannot solve all of America's health problems.

* The growing acceptance that health is not simply the "absence of disease" and involves more than just the physical body.

* The growing body of research, as well as public opinion, that states that alternative medicine is often more effective, economical, and less invasive and harmful than conventional medicine.

* The growing number of informed health care consumers who are open to trying alternative medical treatments and demanding to be treated as a person - not as a diagnosis - by their health care practitioners.

What is the Difference Between Conventional and Holistic Medicine?

Standard, conventional, or orthodox medicine, also called allopathy, defines health as the absence of disease. This definition is based on a negative. In contrast, holistic medicine concurs with the definition of health used by the World Health Organization (WHO), which posits that it is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. 

"Despite the insights of some eminent doctors, medicine still focuses on disease, giving it a failure orientation. 
Its practitioners still act as though disease catches people, rather than understanding that people catch disease by becoming susceptible to the seeds of illness to which we are all constantly exposed. 
Although the best physicians have always known better, medicine as a whole has rarely studied the people who don't get sick. 
Most doctors seldom consider how a patient's attitude towards life shapes that life's quantity and quality." Excerpted from "Love, Medicine and Miracles," by Bernie S. Siegel, M.D.

The allopathic and holistic definitions of health differ greatly in regard to the diagnosis and treatment of illness.�People who use conventional medicine usually do not seek treatment until they become ill; there is little emphasis on preventive treatment. The main causes of illness are considered to be pathogens-bacteria or viruses-or biochemical imbalances. Scientific tests are often used in diagnosis. Drugs, surgery, and radiation are among the key tools for dealing with the problems.

Holistic medicine, in contrast, focuses on preventing illness and maintaining health
. It views health as a balance of body systems - mental, emotional, and spiritual, as well as physical. All aspects of a person are seen as interrelated - a principle called holism, meaning "state of wholeness." Any disharmony is thought to stress the body and perhaps lead to sickness. 

To fight disease, alternative medicine uses a wide range of therapies to bolster the body's own defenses and restore balance. The best illustration of this approach is the fact that ancient Chinese doctors were paid only when their patients were healthy, not if they became ill. Natural medicine, which follows a holistic approach, views illness and disease as an imbalance of the mind and body that is expressed on the physical, emotional, and mental levels of a person. Although allopathy does recognize that many physical symptoms have mental components (for example, emotional stress might promote an ulcer or chronic headaches), its approach is generally to suppress the symptoms, both physical and psychological. 

Natural medicine assesses the symptoms as a sign or reflection of a deeper instability within the person, and it tries to restore the physical and mental harmony that will then alleviate the symptoms. Holistic medicine recognizes that the human body is superbly equipped to resist disease and heal injuries. But when disease does take hold, or an injury occurs, the first instinct in holistic healing is to see what might be done to strengthen those natural resistance and healing agents so they can act against the disease more effectively. 

Results are not expected to occur overnight. But neither are they expected to occur at the expense of dangerous side effects.

Follow with...  "Understanding the body pH"