Conventional, Western, orthodox and allopathic medicine rarely wants you to understand that healing can be a process other than just ingesting pills, undergoing surgery or needless, expensive treatments. The terms conventional, Western or orthodox provide the dominant medical system in the US with a high degree of credibility and sanctioned power. Using the term allopathic instead of conventional tends to soften the hard uncaring edge of a medicine which emphasizes disease and technology rather than individualized preventive care and wellness.
When I began my medical career 43 years ago, I jumped feet-first into the esteemed god squad (open-heart team). Back then life and death was straightforward and fascinating. Our patients thought we walked on water and trust was explicit. In turn, we valued all life and the loss of a patient was taken personally by the team. Body systems, disease processes, technology, pharmaceuticals and standards of care were not so complex. We were married to our Level 1 trauma center — and we loved it.
As society, technology, politics and our institution advanced, I lost my idealism and excitement. The profession soured and I turned to agency nurse/home health, private duty and alternative medicine. In 1970 there was not a lot of “alternative.” My leaving critical care was not so much a search for an alternative process as it was total dissatisfaction with conventional medicine. What had worked for emergency situations was useless in treating chronic illness.
I could not understand how a science so powerful had been placed primarily at the disposal of a disease theory so limited and idealized. There is a notable difference in the approach to the practice of medicine and a system of medicine. Louis Pasteur’s findings regarding infectious illness state: a single agent causes a single type of disease and a specific therapy can be used to treat that disease. Avant-garde for his time; narrow-minded for ours.
” Traditional medicine” is often used erroneously to describe conventional medicine. Traditional is defined as the handing down of opinions, doctrines, practices, rites and customs and should be reserved for Chinese, ayurvedic, Tibetan or other indigenous medical systems. These systems incorporate century-old philosophies and foundations heavily rooted in societal traditions. Unfortunately, unless you were a hundred year old direct descendant, these belief systems were pretty much off-limits, ambiguous and 180 degrees from my conventional regimented training.
Fortunately, I was blessed with agency directors, physicians and co-workers who embraced my philosophies. Through continuing education, seminars, videos, charts and hours of research and testing, we developed patient care plans, team leaders and programs for every aspect of our home health mission.
Given the tremendous advances in our understanding of the physical universe and the complexities of the human organism, it has become evident the mind and body are one and the human body is more than a structural and biochemical entity. Enter Naturopathy or natural medicine, and Homeopathy. Naturopathic trained physicians are experts in prevention and treatment of all common ailments and chronic degenerative diseases which have a dietary, environmental, genetic and lifestyle multifaceted etiology.
Conventional physicians tend to use these terms interchangeably to dummy-down natural medicine and keep alternative medicine in its proper place. This inappropriate interchange of terms dilutes the credibility of alternative medicines in the minds of healthcare consumers.
To help integrate these systems, the National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine introduced CAM (complementary and alternative medicine ) in the 1990s. The problems for CAM were too much information and mainstreaming and the potential co-optation of alternative medicine by conventional medicine. This resulted in more confusion and the tendency for patients to stick to one program, beneficial or not.
Luckily, the practice of integrative (functional) medicine is gaining popularity and many mainstream medical practitioners now fully embrace and trust the better-studied alternative disciplines. Click here for in-depth information on Naturopathic educational institutes and FAQs.
Functional medicine is the new medicine for the 21st century. The conventional mindset of asking questions that rapidly narrow down the patient’s history to a specific organ system diagnosis is slowly being replaced with patient-centered involvement in determining the underlying imbalances and influences responsible for the context for disease or dysfunction.
This whole-person view coupled with molecular medicine armed with the tools and technology to evaluate the biochemistry of cells, tissues and organs will revolutionize the development of a customized comprehensive treatment plan to restore health, dignity and quality of life.
In subsequent articles I will explore the options available for improving your biochemical balance and energy.
Click here to view my published articles and Yahoo profile.
Images Courtesy of Yahoo Public Domain
credit/copyright: getty images/getty. caption: child getting acupuncture.
credit/copyright: tcmpage.com. caption: acupuncture needles and herbal therapy go hand in hand with Zen and healing.