Role of Alternative Medicine in Modern Society

Typically, alternative medicine differs from traditional medicine in that alternative medicine is older and what we might call unconventional or non-Western medicine. Alternative medicine does not follow the traditional science and research that current medicines undergo. Alternative medicine could also be termed complementary or traditional medicine or the therapies that can be integrated into current medicine. The staff of the National Library of Medicine of the United States classified alternative medicine under the category of complementary therapies in their Medical Subjects Heading Section. This was done in the year 2002. The definition provided was that alternative medicine therapeutic practices were not considered as an integral part of the traditional allopathic medicine. Therapies like acupuncture, dieting, physical therapy like exercises or yoga, etc. are termed as alternative medicine. These therapies are called complementary when they are used along with conventional treatments. If they are done in place of conventional treatments, they are known as alternative treatments.

In April 1995, the panel of National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, worked on Definition & Description, CAM Research Methodology Conference, Office of Alternative Medicine. The panel defined alternative medicine and complementary medicine as those healing resources that encompass all health systems and practices that are different from the dominant health system of a particular society or culture. Usually, therapies like ayurveda, herbal medicine, folk medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, naturopathy, diet practices, chiropractic, music therapy, massage, pranic healing, etc. are classified as alternative or complementary medicine. People who do not find a cure, remedy or success in allopathic medicine generally try alternative medicine. Such people generally suffer from cancer, arthritis, acquired immuno deficiency syndrome (AIDS), chronic back pain, etc. Therapies included under alternative medicine would cease to be included in that category once their efficacy is proven and they are considered safe and effective. They are then considered as part of traditional medicine. An example would be chiropractors. Twenty years ago insurance would not pay for them as they were considered "alternative and ineffective." Today thousands of people have been helped by chiropractors and they are now recognized in the medical community. A similar movement is underway in the nutritional supplement and nutraceutical industry.

Over the years, more and more people have been using alternative medicine because traditional medicine is not working for them. The 2004 survey by the National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine of the United States revealed that approximately 36% of Americans used alternative medicine in 2002. If alternative medicine is used in conjunction with traditional allopathic medicine, an integrative doctor is a person's best option. Some traditional doctors are adamantly against or simply do not believe in complementary medicine, even though research continues to show the benefits of many compounds. Your doctor should be informed about other approaches you may be using and if they are not comfortable with that then always feel free to choose another doctor. This would enable the doctor to foresee any possible complications or a better time in which to use a complementary therapy. The concern …

Why Modern Medicine is the Greatest Threat to Health

There is the essential assumption that modernity translates into better health. A corollary of this logic is that we can live our lives pretty much as we want because we can always buy a repair. You know, the car won't start, the TV is broken, the telephone is dead – no problem. Just call in an expert, spend some money and all is well.

People carry this over to their thinking about health. Our ticker falters, joints creak or an unwanted growth pops up – no problem. Buy some modern medical care. If that doesn't work, it's a problem of money, better insurance, more hospital funding, more research for the "cure," more doctors, better equipment and more technology. Right?


Don't take my word for it. Listen to the perpetrators themselves. The following is taken right from the pages of the Journal of the American Medical Association (July 26, 2000): "Of 13 countries in a recent (health) comparison, the United States (the most modern and advanced in the world) ranks an average of 12th (second from the bottom) … "

For example, the US ranks:

Last for low birth weight
Last for neonatal and infant mortality overall
11th for post neonatal mortality
· Last for years of potential life lost
11th for female life expectancy at one year, and next to last for males
· 10th for age adjusted mortality

The World Health Organization, using different indicators, ranked the US 15th among 25 industrialized nations. (If ranked against "primitive" cultures eating and living as humans were designed, the whole industrialized world would be at the bottom of the heap.)

Some might say these dismal results are because of smoking, alcohol, cholesterol, animal fats and poor penetration of medical care. Not so. Countries where these health risks are greater have better overall health according to epidemiological studies. It's also not due to lack of technology. The US is, for example, second only to Japan in the number of magnetic resonance imaging units (MRIs) and computed tomography scanners per unit of population. Neither can lack of medical personnel be blamed since the US has the greatest number of employees per hospital bed in the world.

So what is the problem? Here are some clues as revealed in the same journal cited above:
12,000 deaths per year from unnecessary surgery
· 7,000 deaths per year from medication errors in hospitals
20,000 deaths per year from other hospital errors
80,000 deaths per year from nosocomial (originating in a hospital) infections
106,000 deaths per year from adverse effects of medications

That totals 225,000 deaths per year, the third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer. Another study – we're talking just hospital related deaths here – estimates 284,000 deaths per year. An analysis of outpatient care jumps these figures by 199,000 deaths for a new total of 483,000 medically related deaths per year. And this assumes doctors and hospitals eagerly report all their mistakes. Think so?

The poor health ranking in the US …

Health Insurance Costs and Modern Medicine

It seems that the more insurance one has the higher go the fees. Doctors now earn substantially more than they did proportionally few years ago. While they know that their patients can recover most of the cost for their service they rarely get an argument from them. In Australia we have the Medicare system that covers everything for those without private health.

The previous Prime Minister, Tony Abbot, put this extra burden on people that they must have health insurance. Only the pensioners above 75 years are now covered by bulk billing. That is they are not charged and the government pays for them. Prior to the Abbot changes everyone had this type of benefit but the cost was unsustainable.

Because of that rise in fees the government is now looking for ways to cut it back even further. The increase in population from overseas migrants is putting an extra burden on the system. Some of these people will go to two or three doctors in the same day thinking they will get better quicker. Some are also getting extra drugs and selling them overseas.

Modern medicine is expensive and now the vets are also on a par with the medical profession as far as fees go. The debate that they do much the same amount of study is a logical claim but when one has no insurance against their bills it is rather tough for many to afford it. Pet ownership is suffering as a result.

We can’t go backwards to old systems because it becomes too complicated. Once people earn more it is hard to take it away again. This is yet another dilemma the government is dealing with as there appears to be no way they can force a decrease in the cost of the medical bills covered by their program. The cost of private insurance is also rising beyond what most and now afford.

Source Article

Shamanism – An Alternative to Modern Medicine?

The internet, television, and other news sources are sounding the alarm announcing new protocols for the treatment of diseases. These diseases range from Alzheimer, cancer, diabetes, MS, to Parkinson's. Within this shout-out is near condemnation of pharmaceuticals and praise for other approaches. The intent here is not to list these approaches or to specifically discuss all of them. One among the many does require attention.

There is a proliferation of shamanic healers and practitioners within the United States. Dozens of organizations offering advice, membership, seminars, and certification abound. A bulging gold mine lights up the horizon of possible candidates for healing.

At this point, it is helpful to define shamanism. There is no need to trace the etymological history of the word. Shamanism is not a cult nor is it a religion even though there is an abundance of evidence that suggests a belief in a divine power circumnavigating the universe. Shamanism is an ancient form of healing. A shaman, despite some attempt to label them as a priest, is simply a healer, that is, one who knows remedies for certain physical issues.

One of several significant markers that distinguish a shaman from a doctor is the recognition that illness may not be just physical, but emotion based. Treating the whole patient is a 40,000 year old approach that is catching on in the 21st Century. Another difference between a shaman and a modern physician is the division of reality into three realms: upper, middle, and lower. And that leads to a third difference: A shaman uses spirit guides as he or she treats a client.

The shaman has a wide knowledge of herbs; whereas, the modern doctor has a depth in what drugs to use. The shaman is nature based and the physician is most likely man-made chemically based. There is a sound movement to make more "drugs" natural based which from some quarters is praise worthy.

A fundamental issue arises from a cleverly clothed advertisement or testimonials praising the marvelous wonder of shamanic healing. Whenever a practitioner proposes a "cure" be very cautious. If you have a pain in your side a shaman may not know that it is appendicitis, indigestion, blocked bowel, or cancer. Accepting shamanic healing as an alternative to modern medicine is a grave mistake. And no pun is intended.

Alternative leaves a bad taste. It implies that there is a better way and that may not be the case. Supportive and interrogative medicine suggests treatment along with current medical practices.

Source Article