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‘Alternative’ medicine all messed up

There certainly is a great deal of talk these days about alternative medicine. As modern society moves faster and marketing becomes the name of the game, our very existence becomes the playing field for the evolution of health care.

Medicine, it seems, has been around for centuries. Even further back in time, tribal elders held a position of knowledge and wisdom based on years of experience watching the natural process of life, injury and healing. These wise elders could be sought out for advice on health problems, personal dilemmas and other problems.

With time, their successes and skills developed. Some younger members of the tribe might take an early interest in these matters. Soon the tribe would have a specialist with skills in the arts of healing based on working with the laws of nature and their place in the world. Even the plants would help them as they learned to understand more about the life process and how to help an injured or ill person get back into a living balance.



There was no thought that this was an alternative approach to health care. This was simple, pure medicine working to keep the tribe as healthy as possible for the good of all concerned.

Human history holds a recognized place for the “medicine man” in the evolution of our species. Notice this role was not called the tribal “alternative medicine man.” There was nothing alternative about health care that promoted health.




So the question arises: How did the life-giving, naturally oriented, rebalancing approaches to human health come to be known as “alternative medicine,” and the life-sucking, cutting, pasting and poisoning approaches come to be known simply as “medicine”?

It is no wonder we are all confused about alternative medicine. It’s all backwards. It would appear that the marketing of health care has gotten us so mixed up that we have switched the meaning of the words. I would think that “alternative” would more appropriately refer to altered, as in not natural or not normal.

A slow and meticulous process has taken place over the last few hundred years, in which medicine has become fixated on the materialistic aspects of illness and its symptoms and become confused. Modern techno-pop medicine has lost its way along the path toward human health.

This modern approach has taken a detour into a dead end of technological advances. Modern medicine seems to me to be more of an alternative to health than the more traditional approaches of helping people return to balanced health and vitality.

For example, cancer is a rising problem in our world. In the techno-pop medicine view, cancer is a disease that must be eradicated, attacked like a foreign invader, destroyed. Shrines to these efforts have been erected all over the country.

This represents the disease-based model. The natural life-based approach to this situation views cancer not as a disease, but as the human body’s response to some deeper life-limiting situation. These limiting events, such as toxic exposure, hidden resentment, poor nutrition or emotional pain, lead to regions of poor vitality. The region of poor vitality is the real problem. The actual tumor is the symptom. Looking for these deeper sources of imbalance is a more life-directed approach toward health care.

So which is the alternative? It depends on your point of view. In a world in which marketing is more important than content and the very substance of health care is focused on identifying disease, we must look further into our words to find the true source for life and health.

If a full, healthy life experience is to be our goal, then doctoring of the human being should reflect those intentions. I do not believe we should refer to health-based medical care as alternative. What do you think?

If it gets too confusing, don’t worry; just stick to life. It will always bring you home.

Daniel Allen is a doctor of osteopathy with a practice in Nevada City. Contact him at 478-5770.


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