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Comparison of Conventional and Alternative Medicine

The term “conventional medicine” refers to medicine practiced by medical doctors and doctors of osteopath. Alternative medicine is a system of theory and practice used by many individual cultures around the world. There are several differences in conventional and alternative medicines, but there are some practitioners that use them together.

If you’ve been listening to the medical community intermittently recently, you may have heard the word “holistic” dropped every so often. You might have heard it, but you may not have much of an idea of what it means and simply dismissed it as medical jargon. The term is used to describe an approach of medicine that performs the usual task of diagnosing and treating a problem, but spreads out to encompass other aspects of the patient.

Promoting Good Health

The emphasis in alternative medicine is good health and prevention of disease. With alternative medicine, an individual is using natural remedies to build up the immune system to fight off infection and diseases.  Each person is treated as an individual. Then, a specialized treatment is used for their needs. Through extensive questioning and diagnostic tools, the practitioner works to determine the cause of health problems. If there are underlying factors influencing your health, they will work to find the problem.  Instead of using the same treatment on everyone with a common symptom, they try to find the hidden cause and treat it.

Essentially, the “holistic approach” hopes not only to improve physical health, but also to bring a balance between the body, mind, and spirit to improve health in the long-term. As such, holistic medicine also touches upon aspects such as lifestyle and social interactions. This medical philosophy can be applied to everything from pain relief to muscle training, from physical training to social skills.

Different Methods

There are several different kinds of alternative medicines: homeopath, osteopath, chiropractic, herbal medicine, massage and acupuncture. Alternative medicine practitioners usually have a quality education with degree-level exams and monitored evaluation. Other therapies not as common are reflexology and aromatherapy, which use less invasive methods. These are more independent practitioners sometimes using methods developed on their own. The main focus of most holistic medical systems, regardless of their country of origin, is to return the body to a state of balance.

The philosophy is neither new, nor Western in origin. Traditional Chinese Medicine, along with the offshoot systems in Japan and Korea, as well as the Indian Ayur Veda system are both holistic in approach. Essentially, both systems focus on correcting the physical and mental imbalances that cause problems in both the body and mind. This stands in contrast to Western medicine, where problems are taken as separate considerations from the general state of the body.

For example, while a Western doctor who abides by Western medical philosophy might recommend mild doses of Tramadol for pain relief, a TCM practitioner or someone who believes in the holistic approach might be more inclined to ask the patient about things like his emotions or personal problems. This is done because it is believed that the body’s negative responses can be reflective of imbalances of the mind or spirit.

The body is generally viewed as a combination of different parts and elements, which come together harmoniously when a person is in imperfect health. An imbalance occurs when one of those aspects becomes greater than the others, which in turn is attributed to the physical ailment that a patient suffers.

The term “holistic” bas been used to describe a number of alternative systems of medicine and health, such as the afore mentioned TCM and Ayur Veda. On occasion, it has also been used to describe more modern systems that focus on natural cures and treatments. The purpose is to stimulate the body’s healing process. Instead of trying to rid the body of a disease or symptom, the whole body is treated, and the cause is addressed. That is why a whole regimen is sometimes prescribed. This could be dietary changes, exercises, and an herbal remedy. By treating the cause, you have more chance of a complete cure.

In more recent times, some doctors with Western training are employing the holistic approach in their diagnosis and treatment procedures, which is an approach that is welcomed among Western medicine practitioners in the Far East. This combination of two philosophies once seen as conflicting is not quite common, but is reportedly starting to catch on in Korea, China, Taiwan, and Japan. In recent years, Americans have spent billions of dollars on unconventional medicine, doctor’s visits, and herbal remedies.

In most cases, these treatments are not as costly as conventional medicines. Many companies offer alternative medicine in their healthcare packages.  As a result, many drug stores and chain stores are stocking natural remedies.

Conventional Treatments

In conventional medicine, the symptoms are attacked aggressively with surgery and drugs. Instead of the whole body being considered at one time, each organ is attended separately. Medical schools are divided into organ specific departments where the organs are learned about separately, and are not taught as being related to each other. This works fine for emergency and trauma treatments, but does not promote better health over all.

The treatments used in conventional medicine are the result of scientific research and successful results. Many doctors are convinced that these are the best for their patients. But in most cases, they will treat everyone with the same treatment when they could have different factors affecting their health. Many doctors specialize in one area and only know that one field well.

Using Both Methods

Some doctors use alternative medicine in a complimentary manner along with their conventional treatments. Several medical schools and renowned hospitals are offering courses and clinics using alternative medicines. This is also common in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Most people assume that only the latest high-tech treatments will be affective, but sometimes these are not as tried and proven as the old time remedies passed down over the years. The best thing to do is gather as much information as you can before you make a judgment. Many times people are skeptical or fearful because they do not know the facts.

Being Prepared

Though our bodies are very resilient and have the amazing ability to heal themselves, there are times that we will need help. It is best to be informed about both conventional and alternative medicines when the time comes to make a choice.

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