Saturday, April 25, 2009

Which Way Do You Go?

The topic for today involves Western Medicine vs. Alternative Health Practices. I shouldn't really even phrase it that way--because I think that creates part of the internal conflict regarding having to choose one or the other (at least for me).

When you're sick, what do you do? If you're more Western Medicine (WM) oriented, you probably take inventory of your symptoms and either pop some pills or make a doctor's appointment for prescriptions, tests, etc. If you're more Alternative Health (AH) oriented, you probably take inventory of your symptoms and then look to herbal or nutritional remedies, supplements, neti pots, acupuncture, massage, meditation, or other non-traditional "solutions."

Over the past 15 years, I've evolved from a wholly WM approach toward the other end of the spectrum. In fact, I think sometimes I take it too far. I'm beginning to reassess my position on always trying to "medicate" with just yoga and food and herbal supplements. One way I've done this is to examine how I came to have this perspective.

Think about why you do what you do when it comes to medicine and health. Is it totally passive--you just do what you always did and what your parents did? Or have you researched and come to your own conclusions? There is no wrong answer---it's about figuring out why and how you got to where you are, and then you can identify whether or not you have any reasons to change.

For myself, I believe I've been interested in AH for a while, and tried some things here and there when WM wasn't doing the whole job. Then I watched someone I love die in the midst of the most routine procedure with qualified WM professionals. WM didn't work that time, and I think I was jaded by that, pushing me to resist WM whenever I could.

I also see a nurse practitioner who tells me things about health that I know are not completely accurate, and I think about all the patients who just believe what they're told by the WM professionals because they trust them.

Today, when I have a health issue to deal with, I think I'll take a complementary AH-WM approach. Maybe I need WM to help with some symptoms, and I'll also use as much AH as I can to address what is going on inside to have cause the problems and to help reverse it.

I've been thinking of WM negtively as the "bandaid approach" for quite some time, and maybe it is sometimes. But bandaids can be helpful, as long as we're always looking a few steps further to get to the root of the problem as well.


Anonymous said...

What seems to determine how I attack my health "issues" is working with a person I trust who LISTENS to what I say .... I know me better than anyone, so when I am triple booked; when the practitioner doesn't even look at me; when I feel he/she has already identified my "problem", I am suspicious of his/her 'cures' .... so many of the conditions/illneses I have faced are multi-layered and aren't "easy" fixes - I agree -take the best from all ......

Anonymous said...

It is good to keep an open mind, but I have to believe in the WEST!

Bill said...

AM is fine, as long as you're careful not to get sucked in by psuedo-scientific nonsense. If the effectiveness of any treatment can only be confirmed by testimonials, that should immediately set off your BS detector. Not to discount the placibo effect, but if any treatment can be confirmed by independent study as effective, then why would it still be considered "alternative"? I guess I'd prefer the term "non-traditional", but the same caveat still applies.