The Pros & Cons of Alternative & Conventional Medicine
What is the difference between natural (holistic medicine) and conventional (western medicine)? Most Americans view holistic or natural medicine like its voodoo or witchcraft. In actuality, holistic or natural medicine has been practiced quite successfully worldwide for thousands of years, long before we had “western medicine”.
The main difference between these two schools of thought is their philosophy. Holistic comes from the Latin word meaning “whole” as holistic medicine is meant to care for the whole person—mind, body, and spirit. Western medicine is much more focused on diagnostics and prescriptive options.
Let me say right up front, they both have their place in the wide variety of health needs for your family. Solomon’s advice–“A wise man avoids all extremes”—was especially true when it comes to the type of medicine and therapies you seek for the health of yourself and your loved ones. Smart healthcare is utilizing the best care for your family based on the need/situation.
What About Me?
Another difference between these two schools of thought is the focus on the individual and the relationship between patient and practitioner. In many cases, western medicine solutions are a one-size-fits-all. Patients are quickly diagnosed and prescribed a drug and/or surgical treatment. Holistic practitioners tend to spend more time with patients, developing a relationship and focusing on the whole person. This can also contribute toward an individual feeling a stronger sense of control or power over their own health and well-being.
Western or modern medicine has very strict guidelines and the professionals who practice it must be well-educated and highly-trained. There is also strict quality control procedures, and every procedure and treatment is based on scientific evidence.
Natural or alternative medicine isn’t always based on research but rather on anecdotal evidence, therefore it is hard to prove to the scientific community that natural treatments are anything more than a placebo. Additionally, as there’s a swampful of “snake oil salesmen” out there, it really behooves you to do your homework.
With the changes wrought by Obamacare, healthcare costs continue to skyrocket–and they aren’t slowing down. For most American families, the price of a monthly insurance premium can be equivalent to the cost of their monthly groceries or mortgage/rent payment. And that premium doesn’t include co-pays, deductibles, and prescription drugs.
Homeopathic doctors can be expensive too, especially since most don’t take insurance. But the cost of most homeopathic remedies is relatively cheap. Herbs, oils, aromatherapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage are significantly less costly than pharmaceuticals and surgery.
After my 3-year-old son was diagnosed with autism in 2000, I found a homeopathic pediatrician. What made this practice so unusual was that they accepted health insurance. Fifteen years ago, that was rare. It’s still rare because in order for a holistic practice to be able to accept insurance, their primary model has to be conventional medicine with holistic offered as an option or an aside.
Do I have to pick just one?
Since each model of medicine has its benefits and limitations, do we really have to pick just one to follow? The fusion of holistic and western medicine is called “integrative medicine” as it integrates the best practices both schools of thought. Next time, we’ll address this new melding of these very different types of medical practices.