Complementary and Alternative Medicine, known collectively as CAM, is becoming more recognized for its beneficial effect on people’s health. While none of the most common forms of alternative medicine has been proven to work in scientifically rigorous double-blind studies, the truth is that much of Western medicine is not necessarily effective, either.
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One of the main reasons for this is that Western medicine is built almost entirely on the model of fighting infectious diseases. Plagues, viruses such as polio, tuberculosis, AIDs, MRSA and other infectious diseases can be detected, diagnosed and treated. The results of treatment can be measured.
Many illnesses and chronic conditions, however, cannot be treated the same way. Most Western illnesses can be prevented through adherence to a healthy diet, regular exercise and conscious stress reduction. But, Western medicine is focused on treating diseases after they occur. Unfortunately, it is often too late to reverse the illness or condition.
Alternative medicine and especially integrative medicine, seeks to treat the whole patient and is often effective in preventing or treating chronic conditions. Not because of the way disciplines such as homeopathy affect your physical body, but because of the way in which alternative healers approach their practice affects their patients. In order to understand more, consider the following.
1. The Placebo Effect Is Real
One of the favorite ways for Western medicine to dismiss alternative medicine is to claim that all results are a direct result of the placebo effect. In other words, a chronically tired person with constant abdominal pain is only “cured” by a homeopathic remedy because that person believes in the cure.
The problem with this argument is that most Western medicines don’t work much better than a placebo, either. That doesn’t mean that placebos are bad. It means that Western medicine treats only the symptoms and leaves the human being out of the equation. If homeopathic remedies make our exhausted and ill person feel energized and well, then there is no basis for dismissing the fact that it worked for her.
Studies have shown that the main difference between whether a placebo will work or not is the relationship between the practitioner and the patient. If your doctor has full confidence in a treatment, and you have a warm and trusting bond with your doctor, you are more likely to get well.
So, when you are choosing an alternative practitioner, trust your instincts. Because if you cannot bond with your naturopath, homeopath or Reiki healer, their treatments will probably not work for you any more than Western medicine administered by a coldly efficient and impersonal doctor would.
2. Alternative Medicine Is Less Expensive Than Western Medicine
One of the more unfortunate truths of Western medicine is that has become largely driven by profit motives. Most people paying the outrageous fees demanded by medical schools and completing the rigorous training expect to be handsomely compensated.
In America, “doctor” has become synonymous with “rich.” There is nothing wrong with being fairly compensated for expertise. But while Western medicine recognizes that relieving stress goes a long way toward helping people become, and stay, healthy, this belief is totally contradicted by the fact that the average cost for one night in the hospital is $16,000.
Most alternative practitioners are also well trained and licensed, but part of what makes their approach so different is that they are healers. You cannot heal someone so panicked over your fee that they cannot bond with you. Many people raised in America are suspicious of prices that seem too good to be true. When you are choosing an alternative practitioner, don’t be afraid to discuss the fees. If they seem too low, ask why. Honest and open communication is the key to a successful healer/patient relationship.
3. Alternative Medicine Empowers And Supports You
Unlike the old joke that has a doctor advising everyone to “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning,” alternative practitioners treat each of their patients as a unique individual. While many disciplines have guidelines and adhere to their own principles, they are tailored for your specific lifestyle, problems, and willingness and ability to embrace your own healing.
The average Western doctor visit takes 20 minutes or less and Western doctors are more likely to interrupt you if you start to talk about subjective things like your feelings. A homeopath, on the other hand, may devote as much as two hours to an initial patient consultation. Being listened to, treated as not only important, but also as a partner in your healing, goes a long way to help support and encourage you to follow your practitioner’s advice. The more active you are in your own healing process, the more likely it is to succeed.