Alternative and natural techniques or symptomatic medicine? Is it possible to find a healthy balance between these two extremes?
by Thejo Akkoor
Music therapy to cure your depression. A diet to take care of your ADHD. Meditation to fix your anxiety. Alternative therapy to cure cancer. Are these all just myths, or do they really work? Is this alternative type of medicine too good to be true? This is what millions ask themselves daily.
For a long time, people have been using unconventional methods to cure their health issues. This dates back to the 6th Century BCE with the establishment of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Alternative medicine focuses on an entire being, not just the illness they possess. This philosophy coincides with the ideologies of many during that era. As the philosopher Socrates put it, “the part can never be well unless the whole is well”.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, believed strongly in the healing power of nature. This contrasted with the beliefs of other early physicians who were specifically looking for ways to correct illness. After discovering germs, the dispute over medicine ceased, becoming solely focused on intervention.
The Scientific Revolution came with the discovery of many drugs that seemed to magically cure people. However, the magic wore off when people began to see the side effects presented with this form of medicine. The first Holistic Health conference was held in California in 1975, hoping to find a more reasonable solution to prescriptions. The American Holistic Health Association was soon formed to look for solutions outside of medicine.
Science, health, and environmental factors have a great effect on us today. People have begun to revert back to traditional forms of medicine. But should they be doing so?
That’s where this trilemma lies. Those who believe in alternative therapy feel that natural techniques may be the future of medicine. Many others believe symptomatic medicine is the way to go because of the scientific evidence behind it. Is it possible to find a healthy balance between these two extremes?
According to the World Health Organization, “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Therefore, according to this definition, taking medicine to cure your physical health doesn't seem very effective for your overall well being.
Additionally, a benefit of Alternative medicine is the fact that there are so many different types of treatment. If you don’t take to one, there is definitely another method to treat the illness.
When used in times of great mental and emotional stress, Alternative medicine has great effects. Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) helps the promotion of wellness, disease prevention, and managing symptoms in patients. In a study done on the benefits of using CAM on cancer patients, it was concluded that the patients using CAM after being diagnosed reported higher levels of mental and emotional health than those that did not. Additionally, attending a 12-session yoga program during and following radiotherapy strengthened benefit-finding three months after treatment. As stated in the paper, “Those who used CAM were more likely to report enhancements in hopefulness, positive changes, and purpose in life”.
Alternative therapy is also eff