Alternative Healing vs Traditional Medicine

There is a lot of controversy surrounding alternative modalities of healing, and whether or not they are effective. My feelings on alternative medicine is that mainstream medicine should not be replaced by it, but rather complimented by it.  It’s not an all or nothing scenario. All alternative medicine is not good, but it’s also not all bad.

Recently there was an article about parents who withheld medical treatment for their child to treat the child with homeopathy, and the child later died. This is a sad and tragic story, but does it prove homeopathy doesn’t work? I don’t think so. I think this case is more of a reflection on neglect and/or poor choices by the parents, as apposed to the failure of homeopathy. This case is a glaring example of why traditional medicine should not be ignored for alternative medicine.

Even with all the controversy, many medical professionals are now excepting that alternative healing practices can be helpful to patients when used in conjunction with their mainstream treatments.

Marilynn Marchione wrote Alternative Medicine Is Being Integrated Into Mainstream for The Huffington Post on Monday. Here is an excerpt from the article…

Alternative medicine has become mainstream. It is finding wider acceptance by doctors, insurers and hospitals like the shock trauma center at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Consumer spending on it in some cases rivals that of traditional health care.

People turn to unconventional therapies and herbal remedies for everything from hot flashes and trouble sleeping to cancer and heart disease. They crave more “care” in their health care. They distrust drug companies and the government. They want natural, safer remedies.

I agree with most of what she’s written about the supplement market and the lack of government regulation (it’s bad), but alternative medicine is so much more than just supplements.

Angelique talks about 5 Reasons You Should Consider Alternative Healing…

There are many reasons to choose alternative healing over traditional forms of medicine. There’s the cost, the holistic approach, no side effects. The list goes on.

For those still on the fence about alternative healing, I found an article that lists the top 5 reasons why anyone should consider it from a practical standpoint.

Well, I would have to disagree with Angelique on this one. The cost is often times more for alternative healing, because it’s not usually covered by insurance. And even holistic medicine has side effects. But even so, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider alternative medicine.

From The Edge – Alternative and Allopathic Medicine: Peaceful Partnership…

Even though the scalpel may remove the tumor, since the disease effects the whole of its host/creator, the whole self must disinvite the disease and anchor wellness. In my own healing process, besides doing the inner work I knew I had to do, I researched diet, finding stunning similarities between the cancer-healing diets of Edgar Cayce and that suggested by the Center for Advancement in Cancer Education, which is based on growing edge clinical research.

I resolved the few differences between these sources with my own intuitive work and came up with a diet that can be fine-tuned for anyone who wants to heal from or prevent cancer. Bottom line: an alkaline diet rich in veggies and fruits, fiber, nuts and (non-peanut) legumes and, wild-caught fish, free-range poultry and eggs.

I am certain that the holistic modalities that I used to complement my medical care were important factors in my healing: Hypnotherapy, Self-Hypnosis, Meditation, Massage (both traditional and lymphatic drainage), Reiki, Sacro-cranial treatments, Acupuncture, Emotional Freedom Technique and Affirmative Prayer. Without them I believe my disease would have progressed faster; with them my recovery speeded up and my body healed not only from the disease but from the potentially devastating effects of the treatment.

Dr. Amy from The Skeptical OB calls Alternative Health Pseudoscience. Her perspective is interesting, but I think it’s also an example of why an all or nothing approach isn’t helpful.

The current popularity of “alternative” health is a sad testament to the pervasive appeal of pseudoscience among Americans. As a general matter, “alternative” health is the belief that simple measures (nutritional supplements, herbs, laying on of hands) are effective in preventing and treating serious illness. “Alternative” health promotes the happy fantasy that we have more control over our health than we actually do.

Like most claims of pseudoscience, “alternative” health rests on the twin pillars of lack of knowledge and magical thinking. Lack of knowledge is easy to explain. If you don’t have a fund of basic scientific knowledge, if you don’t understand the scientific method, and if you don’t understand statistics, which is the language of science, you are not going to have a real understanding of health. Most “alternative” health advocates are woefully undereducated about human physiology, have little basic knowledge of science and no knowledge of statistics.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Amy takes a hard line against alternative health practices, but is alternative medicine just pseudoscience? I don’t think so. Just because something can not be “scientifically” proven today, doesn’t mean it won’t be proven in the future. For example, most people believe that when they die they will go to heaven, but there is no “scientific” proof of heaven. Does that mean heaven doesn’t exist? And at one time, before there was proof that the world was round, everyone believed it was flat. Was it flat just because the science wasn’t available to prove it wasn’t? No. Science may not be able to prove that Reiki or Acupuncture (or any other alternative modality) actually works, but that isn’t proof that it doesn’t work either. Let’s face it, even when things are scientifically proven one day, they are often scientifically dis-proven the next. How many times has the FDA approved something and then needed to admit they were wrong and take it off the market? How many times do doctors misdiagnose patients? Even Einstein was wrong sometimes. The only thing we know for sure, is that no one knows everything.

What do you think? Is alternative medicine pseudoscience? Have you ever used alternative modalities of healing? Was it helpful? Let me know in comments.

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3 comments for “Alternative Healing vs Traditional Medicine

  1. June 27, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Dear Catherine Morgan,

    I strongly agree with your comments and presentation of both sides of the health care picture. To me, there are most certainly advantages to both as well. One thing that I would like to add is that some nutritional supplements have been scientifically studied with all the scientific methodology that goes with any valid and reliable research; and this work has been done with human cells. It is not new either; it is information that has been known for at least 40 years on what nutrition keeps human cells healthy in the laboratory year after year. Naturally, the picture is bigger than that; and yet, as I’m sure you know, health and disease both start at the cell level.

    A book I have recently written highlights this viewpoint and I want to draw it to your attention, as you may be interested in it. The title is “Soul Talk With Cells: What We Really Want Is To Play” and information is available at If you have any questions, I am most willing to offer my views on this topic.

    Flora Sue Gardner

  2. March 14, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    I truly believe in alternative healing and prevention. After two surgeries on my Rotator Cuff, I was still in excruciating pain. My sister in-law referred me to for acupuncture . They put me in touch with an excellent Practitioner and after acupuncture treatments – I am pain free without pharmaceuticals!

  3. Pingback: Alternative Medicine: How Does it Compare to Traditional Medicine? | News

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