Aging Successfully: Alternative versus conventional medicine

  • Wednesday, April 8, 2020 1:30am
  • Opinion
Aging Successfully: Alternative versus conventional medicine

One of the things which make it difficult to understand the difference between alternative and conventional medicine is the many terms and labels used to describe the two. Then, adding to the confusion is a third area of healthcare: integrative medicine.

Conventional medicine has other labels; some are western medicine, bio-medicine and modern medicine. Plus, there are names for the many fields of treatment within conventional medicine such as pediatrics, geriatrics and oncology.

America’s medical history is a tragic tale which includes stories like Europeans arriving in the New World and coming into contact with new diseases like diphtheria and malaria, diseases which their bodies had no immunity for. These stories may be some of reasons conventional medicine’s main focus is on treating the sick patient using scientifically-proven methods.

Alternative medicine also has many different labels such as holistic medicine, natural medicine, and unconventional medicine. Like conventional medicine, alternative healthcare has many fields within it such as acupuncture, Chinese and homeopathic.

It can be confusing when uninformed people insinuate these fields of treatment are a separate discipline of medicine and not under the umbrella of alternative medicine.

One difference between conventional and alternative medicine is conventional medicine focuses on healing the physical body of a sick patient. Alternative medicine’s focus is on the entire person, body and mind, and on ways to keep both healthy.

There is an ancient medical textbook from China which dates back to 200 B.C., written by multiple practitioners. In addition to physical treatments this textbook includes tips on the importance of nutrition, exercise and mental health.

A similarity between the two disciplines is researchers are running the same clinical trials on alternative remedies that they do on newly-developed prescription drugs. One famous clinical trial took place in 1740 when Dr. James Lind, a Scottish surgeon, boarded the HMS Salisbury determined to test whether or not citrus fruit was a cure for scurvy. Lind went on to become a pioneer in naval hygiene.

A third discipline of healthcare is integrative medicine, which is also called complementary medicine. Integrative medicine is a fancy term which means combining conventional and alternative treatments to cure a patient. This approach makes integrative medicine all-inclusive, from chemotherapy to herbal teas.

A very important fact to remember is not every remedy works for every person whether it is alternative or conventional. One example is if I catch a respiratory infection, the steroid prednisone is my “miracle” drug, along with a now archaic antibiotic. Yet I have a good friend who literally became disabled from taking prednisone.

Another example is St. John’s Wort is the go-to herb for relieving depression. However, St. John’s Wort has been known to increase depression in certain individuals.

There is a time and a place for both conventional and alternative medicine. Yes, there are bad providers in both areas, yet most doctors and health care provides are compassionate, caring and committed.

Before consuming any medicines be it prescription drugs, over-the-counter remedies or supplements check with a trusted and licensed health care provider. In addition, do your own research – and always ask as questions. Ask as many as you need to.

In closing, here is a piece of trivia for you. Nathan Smith Davis, the founder and first president of the American Medical Association was prejudiced against women and African-Americans being professionals, especially in the medical field. He created stringent policies and procedures to discourage everyone except affluent white males in becoming doctors.

Feel free to email me at information@crystallinn.com.

Crystal Linn is a multi-published author and an award winning poet. When not writing, or teaching workshops, Crystal enjoys reading a good mystery, hiking, and sailing with friends and family.

More in Opinion

Don Brunell
Guest opinion: Coronavirus spurring air cargo growth

It’s no secret that airlines and airplane manufacturers have been clobbered by… Continue reading

Crystal Linn
Aging Successfully: Gratitude, thankfulness and mental health

Have you ever stopped to consider the differences between the words gratitude… Continue reading

Sara Brabant dresses as “Weird Al” Yankovic for Halloween saying “my hair was just right.” She reminds us all to have fun as we can in these weird times. Photo courtesy of Oak Table Cafe
Reporter’s Notebook: Weird, wild and thankfulness

“Well, that’s weird!” Bill said of the funny coincidence. “No, that’s just… Continue reading

Jeremy Field, regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration (courtesy photo)
Guest opinion: Shopping small for 2020 holiday season needed more than ever

It’s no secret that the Coronavirus pandemic has made a huge impact… Continue reading

Guest opinion: A climate changes-based apology

An apology to family and friends: I have been well prepared by… Continue reading

Don Brunell
Guest opinion: Military diversity’s lifeline

Diversity in the ranks has been the lifeline of our all-volunteer military,… Continue reading

USEPA Photo by Eric Vance. Public domain image
Being Frank: A time to remember

This fall marks the 50th anniversary of an event that sparked the… Continue reading

Kris Johnson is president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s chamber of commerce and manufacturers association.
Guest opinion: Washington needs manufacturing to lead the economic recovery

Kaitlyn Pype wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life,… Continue reading

Guest opinion: Time for our communities to come together

Time for our communities to come together To our communities: We are… Continue reading

Linda B. Myers
From the Back Nine: And the winner is …

This “opinion piece” will run the day after the election; I am… Continue reading

Bertha Cooper
Think About It: ‘Children will listen’

“Careful the things you say. Children will listen.” Some of you will… Continue reading

Letters to the Editor — Oct. 28, 2020

‘Fear-mongering’ flyers defy reality I received a baseless, fear-mongering flier by the… Continue reading