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Conventional Medicine Vs Alternative Medicine



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     Conventional Medicine Vs
        Alternative Medicine
These are two very different modus operandi
in approaching the goal of physical wellness
and it is worth taking a look at the
differences between the two.
I would argue that each has a valid role
and we only get into trouble with them when
one or the other tries to perform a role to
which it is not suited.
For example, if you are in an automobile
accident and your leg is partially severed
and your artery is pumping blood, taking
vitamins or drinking green tea are quite
frankly not going to help very much. If
that ever happens to me my first stop I can
tell you is going to be neither a
nutritionist nor a chiropractor but the
nearest casualty department where (I hope) I
will be pumped full of anesthetics and
stitched back together again pronto. Having
survived the immediate life-threatening
situation thanks to the good offices of
conventional medicine, which excels at that
sort of thing, I will then set about a
nutritional handling so as to optimize the
efficiency with which the body achieves its
long-term repair and recovery - and
alternative medicine excels at THAT sort of
So let's have a quick layman's look at the
two modus operandi so one can decide which
is the most appropriate for whatever it is
one seeks to handle.
Conventional medicine excels in
emergency/casualty type care and in dealing
with life-threatening situations. To those
scenarios it brings a fantastic amount of
expertise and wisdom: just watching, for
example, some paramedic team bring back to
life a drowned child whose heart had stopped
beating borders on the witnessing of
There are times when a quick fix is
necessary. If your arteries are so clogged
with cholesterol, for example, that if you
move too suddenly you could drop dead, then
it's time to take the statins and get the
cholesterol out of one's tubing a.s.a.p.
Eating a bowl of salad or a tin of sardines
just ain't gonna cut it. It is a life-
threatening situation, so you do whatever
you can to fix the guy up and keep him
Then, when the immediate emergency is over,
you can look to your long term handling: a
Mediterranean diet and so forth to sort out
both the cholesterol problem and the damage
done elsewhere in the body by the statins.
Where a necessary quick-fix is concerned
there is often a trade-off in which death
is averted but at the cost of some damage
done to the body by the intervention. Most
of us would consider this a fair trade.
The Conventional approach to the treatment
of most illnesses, mild or serious, is
routinely to hit the condition with drugs or
surgery. Here again is a quick-fix even
though immanent death is not being averted
and drugs in particular that are designed to
attack one set of symptoms invariably cause
problems and malfunctions in other areas of
the body.
Conventional medicine's approach is to treat
symptoms, not the underlying causes. For
example, if one's cholesterol is too high,
your doctor will routinely prescribe statin
drugs to remove it from the arteries. Very
little is done to investigate and discover
and understand the reason WHY, for that
individual, cholesterol is rising. For
example, the reason might be excessive
homocysteine levels prompting the body to
coat the arteries with a protective layer of
cholesterol and homoscysteine - the actual
CAUSE of the high cholesterol in this
example - could be controlled with B
vitamins with no price to pay in terms of
side effects. In fact, an overall
improvement in health is often achieved
because adequate levels of B vitamins will
have a whole spectrum of benefits.
Drugs are chemicals that are not part of the
body's evolution and operate on the body
essentially as foreign matter. Using again
the example of statins to treat cholesterol,
these drugs work by blocking the production
of cholesterol in the liver. This handles
the symptom of excessive cholesterol
production but at the price of also blocking
the production of a vital enzyme - CoQ10 -
that is key to energy production in the
Their financial value to the manufacturers
lies in the very fact that drugs are not
naturally occurring substances but invented:
being invented they can be patented. The
owner of the patent can then market the drug
at a high price. Substances such as vitamins
on the other hand, occurring in nature,
cannot be patented and thus anyone can
produce and market them, and that means
their pricing must be competitive.
Conventional medicine treats the human body
in parts, not as a whole: the departments in
medical schools and hospitals tend to be
organ-specific and produce doctors highly
specialized in one organ or bodily function.
This compartmentalization does not reflect
how the body and its components function
because the body is a highly integrated
system of complex interrelations.
The training of conventional medical doctors
is based upon "rescue medicine," thinking.
It is perhaps an understandable over-
emphasis considering how well conventional
medicine has won at that particular game.
However, we run into trouble when the quick-
fix/rescue type of intervention is extended
into long-term treatments. For example, a
tranquillizer taken to calm down a person so
violently and dangerously agitated they are
likely to kill someone in their vicinity, if
not themselves, can alleviate the immediate
crisis without the side-effects doing too
much damage if treatment is of short
But the agitation is a SYMPTOM of some
underlying problem. If the tranquilizer is
used as a long-term suppressor of symptoms
in place of finding and treating the
underlying causes, then the damage it does
to the body's delicately interrelated
systems will start to become evident. That
damage can be serious and can become life
threatening in itself.
Meanwhile, the cause of the problem remains
in place and unaddressed and prevention of
disease receives far less than the emphasis
it by rights should receive. Alternative
medicine on the other hand approaches
medical treatment by placing its focus
primarily on finding the CAUSE of a
condition or symptom and treating that on
the one hand and overall wellness that
PREVENTS disease on the other.
In that its treatment of a malady targets
restoring optimum function to the
interrelated system as a whole, alternative
medicine can rarely achieve the quick fix
but it also rarely causes the complications
engendered by the quick-fix approach.
On the contrary, the overall wellness
approach tends to produce a spectrum of
benefits broader than the resolution of the
particular malfunction that first red-
flagged the need for a handling. Again, the
use of the Mediterranean diet is an example:
its benefits extend beyond the reduction of
cholesterol in the arteries to overall
liver, kidney and heart health, weight loss,
restored energy levels and so on.
Conventional medicine, particularly its
drugs with their tendency to set in train
further complications requiring treatment,
tend to be costly both to the individual
pocket and government. The health services
of many nations are creaking under the
financial burden occasioned by declining
health and escalating drugs costs.
Alternative medicine on the other hand, by
reason of its whole approach, tends to be a
far less costly option.
Our societies are at this moment undergoing
something of a seismic shift at grass roots
levels in their approach to healing as the
number of people turning to alternative
therapies grows year by year. Nutrition as a
science has advanced by leaps and bounds,
practices such as chiropractics and
kinesiology are increasingly recognized as
bona fide therapies and confidence in
conventional medicine is in decline, while
the drugs manufacturers must work ever
harder and more ruthlessly to maintain their
market share. Even giant food manufacturing
corporations, not hitherto particularly
noted for their concern for our physical
well being, have jumped on the bandwagon
with sometimes hilariously overblown claims
for the nutritional content of their
This grass roots change has not been
reflected yet in the orientation of most
general practitioners. So many of them are
still slow to direct their patients to
alternative therapies and optimum nutrition.
They still reach for the prescription pad
and send the patient quickly on his way with
some drug to nullify a symptom.
Alternative medicine is also notably more
accessible to the layman, who can relatively
easily learn many of its tenets and
therapies for himself or become quite adept
on the subject of nutrition. Thus in large
measure the layman can gain control over his
own destiny so far as his health is
concerned. Many a layman, becoming
interested in the subject of nutrition,
vitamins, minerals, enzymes and so on, is
soon dismayed by the realization that he
apparently knows more about the subject than
his GP!
Why is this culture-lag on the part of
doctors happening?
The answer may lie at least in part in the
fact that the driving force behind
conventional medicine has for a long time
been the pharmaceutical industry.
Most medical schools receive considerable
funding from an industry that has a vested
interest in marketing its medicines. Through
this financial influence over the medical
schools, plus relentless marketing of their
products to doctors in general practice, the
pharmaceutical industry has achieved
overwhelming influence over conventional
medicine ( what is called in the trade,
"full spectrum dominance"), creating an
ethos that is embraced by both modern
doctors and pharmacists, many of whom think
of their worth in terms knowing which drug
to prescribe for a particular set of
There are other factors at play too:
Funding of medical research favours
conventional medicine over alternative
medicine by a huge margin. For example just
0.08 percent (!) of the British National
Health Service research budget is allocated
to alternative research and out of $12
billion allocated every year by Congress to
the National Institute of Health, a mere
$5.4 million (an even smaller 0.054% percent
by my reckoning) goes to the Office of
Alternative Medicine to investigate the
claims of approximately 50 therapies.
This neglect by government of alternative
medicine research in favor of conventional
drug-based medicine naturally constricts the
speed at which the safe and cost effective
alternatives can advance in research and the
accumulation of expertise. How might
nutrition and its allied sciences have
flourished had it had the psycho-pharmacy's
funding? As such it is a grave disservice
to the citizenry who have every right to
expect that government will protect and
serve so far as their health is concerned.
Despite this, the field of nutrition for one
has still managed to make considerable
advances and evolve a level of understanding
in many respects in advance of that of
conventional medicine.

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