Millions of North Americans have come to trust the accomplishments of medical science to care for their fragile bodies. Why should they not? Using the scientific method, doctors have made it possible to bypass your coronary arteries; to change your heart valves; and to repair or replace your heart, liver and kidneys and most of your joints. Cosmetic surgeons can leave you looking half your age. Your genes can be manipulated, and several inherited disease can be prevented or cured. Infections that used to kill can be treated with powerful antibiotics.
There are drugs to control any sort of pain, restore your sex drive, open your airways to your lungs, melt gallstones, and end migraine attacks. There are machines that can regulate your heart and tiny ones to restore your lost hearing. Conventional medicine has seemed to save our society from dying off. But even after all these accomplishments people are now to looking for an alternative to the pills and machines.
Only a decade ago, alternative medicine in America was a bunch of unrecognized theories used by hippies and New Age enthusiasts. Like the environmental movement alternative medicine has now become an accepted part of mainstream culture. The rise in interest in alternative medicine can be due to a number of factors.
The enlightenment of the 1960’s generation to the decline in trust for the medical community are just some of the suggestions. Also there are many questions relating to the health and well being of not only the physical body but of the mind and soul as well. Medical theory has helped to fix a lot of the problems that have developed in our bodies, but instead of our society getting better, more and more people are suffering from clogged arteries, cataracts, kidney and liver failure.
Degenerative diseases like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and AIDS are more abundant than ever. Now both sick and healthy people alike are searching for a way to not only cure their illnesses but to prevent the disease before it starts, which is not always the goal with conventional medicine. In 1993 the famous Eisenburg study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that one-third of all Americans now use some alternative treatments, and are spending billions of dollars in the process.
What is alternative medicine? Alternative medicine can be defined as any form of healing for the mind, body or spirit that does not use traditional medicine involving machines or drugs. There are many choices in finding the right kind of treatment. Unfortunately medical doctors are not trained in the field of alternative medicine, and most do not care to be. Most doctors are reluctant to even consider the idea of something that in not based on scientific fact. One of the reasons is that doctors are taught to rely on facts, not rumours.
Also by providing an alternative to medical science, doctors are afraid that people will abandon other treatments that have been proven to work. Another theory is that doctors and the medical culture are scared to turn to alternatives because then they will no longer be needed, resulting in a threat to their income. But, as society changes, doctors are having to change their traditional ways to meet the demand for knowledge in the ways of alternative medicine. Currently the only real way to educate oneself in the field of alternative medicine is through self teaching with books and practitioners of alternative medicine.
Natural medicine is the first and foremost principle inspiring alternative medicine. Natural is considered to be anything that comes from the earth and does no contain anything man-made. This desire for natural medicine wells up from not only the environmental movement but the desire to reconnect with the earth and find ones roots. This need to connect with the earth is approached differently by many people. Some choose to wear only all cotton clothing and natural products, others join groups to promote environmental awareness and another might choose to utilize herbs and only eat organically grown fruits and vegetables.
A lot of people just want to get away from the throbbing and beeping of the technology spurting up all around them. Practitioners of alternative medicine choose herbs over man-made drugs, not only because of their amazing benefits, but because it comes from the earth and is more wholesome then some pill formulated in a lab. These people feel as though drugs pollute their bodies the same way artificial fertilizers and pesticides pollute the world. Practitioners of natural medicine when given the choice between a highly effective chemical treatment and a mildly effective herbal one will always choose the latter. Medical doctors do not understand this concept.
They believe that nature is the enemy, and that the purpose of their practice is to correct nature’s errors, to guard against nature’s dangers and to supplement nature’s weaknesses. To trust nature is not an concept of conventional medicine. Doctors do not believe that nature created herbs for the purpose of healing. If a herb possesses any healing properties then they believe that it does so accidentally. Doctors need to understand nature if they expect to heal their clients. Nature is not the enemy, we are.
If we lived in a society where we respected nature and lived with it instead of fighting it then we would not have all the disease and illnesses that we have today. As we become more reliant on technology and man-created substances we become increasingly ill. The medical problems that exist today did not exist one hundred years ago. Nature did not cause clogged arteries or kidney failure. Nature did not put toxic substances in our air and water. Nature did provide us with a safe and clean environment, which we in turn ruined. To have a healthy society we need to give back to nature and listen to what it is telling us. Natural medicine is a step in the right direction.