Traditional vs. Alternative Medicine
Traditional medicine vs. alternate medicine, is a subject of great scrutiny and speculation. An important point to understand is that both the systems share the same objective – a healthy and a safe body. While experts differ in their view on this subject, it is important to deduce the pros and cons of both the branches of medicine. A judicious mix of both can be a good way forward. The Systems
Traditional medicine, as we commonly know includes modern health science, medical technology, surgery and associated practices. This can also be referred to as contemporary medicine or the western medicine. Alternative medicine is the collection of all the knowledge, skills and practices based on age-old theories or experiences. It comprises a wide range of procedures native to different cultures around the world. Alternative science is a combination of all the unconventional practices which are used to prevent, diagnose, improve and treat any form of illness. Apposing Different Aspects of Both Sciences
Traditional approach focuses on the cause of ailment. It concentrates on factors causing the disease, its prevention, remedies and deals with the abnormality as an independent entity. The person affected, the environment or the circumstances under which the disease occurred is insignificant in this system. It is limited to the scientific study of an anomaly and ways to remove it. The alternative approach is an ancient concept and varies according to person and place. It has evolved in different regions of the world over a long period of time. Traditional Chinese medicine, ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy or homeopathy are some of the practices which come under this category.
The underlying principle of these systems is the same viz. considering the ailment as a dynamic entity of the system and ways to uproot its foundation. It considers disease as an upset of balance between a body and its surroundings. Therefore, it focuses on cleansing the entire system rather than eliminating the immediate cause of concern. Traditional medicine, as we commonly follow, does not consider other processes while treating a disease. It is entirely concerned with the organ affected and its treatment. This approach may adversely affect the other parts, during the course of healing. Alternative practices consider disease as a deviation from normal functions of the entire system that is affected. Hence, it focuses on the background, environmental and social conditions and of course, the part affected. The healer’s job, in this case, is to remove the disharmony prevailing, and not the removal of the actual ailment. The healing of a system amounts to the removal of the particular disease. Both the systems have certain advantages over each other.
For example, in case of an emergency such as a severe accident or where an urgent surgical procedure is required, conventional systems prove to be far superior. ^Alternative systems require time and may not be suitable in situations demanding immediate results. Therefore, in critical circumstances, traditional avenues are a preferred option. On the other hand, illness due to psychological factors have a better healing course in the alternative system. Stress-related disorders, allergies, addictions or ‘modem’ ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia have a better cure with the unconventional systems. The use of drugs and surgical procedures rarely help in such cases, and may adversely affect the other parts and organs. Another very important point of contention is, the validity of the systems. Traditional therapy is granted a legal and valid status by responsible authorities such as the local governments or medical associations of a country. Even though alternative medicine is hugely popular and practiced in large numbers, there are no regulatory bodies monitoring the system. Medical training, educational qualifications of the doctors or the healing authority are never considered in an alternate system. A simple case in point is the treatment of the most common ailment prevalent world over: headache. Modem medicine has prescribed hundreds of drugs for its cure. Until this day, there has been no satisfactory remedy for headache.
The sad part of the plight is a variety of side-effects caused due to the antibiotics. In fact, some of the medicines prescribed for headache have been banned in certain countries due to harmful effects on other organs of the body. On the other hand, a simple massage therapy, meditation session, yoga or practice of ‘tai chi’ can permanently cure headache. Thus alternate system rates over traditional medicine in eradication of simple maladies. The solution is lasting and does not incur any side effect. In fact, the entire system is rejuvenated and refreshed. The biggest irony of modem times is, as the number of medical discoveries or drugs increase, so do the number of ailments. Today, in developed countries more than half of the population is on some form of chronic medication. Development in modem medicine has not ensured a healthy lifestyle. The focus is not on finding the cure but to suppress the symptoms. As a part of the hectic culture, we have resigned to the belief in instant results. We expect a quick relief for our suffering, without realizing the hazards of over-medication. We must remind ourselves that a pill for every ailment is not a solution to our health problems.