Natural Therapy vs Western Medicine – Why can’t they just work together?

Stethoscrop

I’m constantly confronted by the differences between Western (allopathic) medicine & natural therapies.  While many seem to believe that you have to choose one or the other – I disagree. Maybe some of my colleagues would be rather annoyed at that admission, but there it is!

I have the benefit of having trained in both sides of medicine – firstly as a nurse, and now as a Naturopath. I’ve seen the benefits & disadvantages of both, but in the natural profession I feel I’m always under constant scrutiny to prove myself. I often ponder this – why should a system that’s been around for thousands of years be written off as “quackery” when our relatively new system of health care is recognised as the gold standard?

Conspiracy theories

Depending on who you talk to, all kinds of different answers to the above question may arise. Some will say that science has overtaken nature when it comes to medical treatment. Some will say that the efficacy of natural therapy cannot be proven. And still others may say that it has been the objective of the medical profession, & pharmaceutical companies in particular, to systematically wipe out any opposition to their way of thinking.

The truth is somewhere in between

I can unequivocally say that science has not overtaken nature & that there is loads of clinical research to prove that natural medicine DOES work. You only have to go on PubMed & type in “turmeric” as a search term to see that. The theory surrounding drug companies & their attack on natural medicine isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. However, I like to theorise how much better ALL healthcare could be if natural therapists & doctors worked together.

We need Western medicine for surgery, childbirth (to some extent), conditions like kidney, liver & cardiac failure  -which can all be life threatening situations. Natural medicine comes into play when you consider the prevention of ill-health in the first place.

Modern Medicine’s weakness is Traditional Medicine’s strength

And vice versa. Consider type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, liver disease and so forth. Imagine how much public health could be improved if people visited a naturopath, nutritionist or herbalist as regularly as they visited their GP! Simply in public health education terms, this would be huge! Traditional medicine has always focused on prevention as  cure, rather than trying to cure the disease once progression is already in place. Modern medicine primarily does the opposite – treating ill health as it occurs, whether that be with antibiotics, pain medication, insulin etc.

Can the 2 sides work together?

Of course they can. It just hasn’t happened here yet. In the US, integrative medicine is becoming huge. All it takes is a little mutual respect, and the realisation that neither side knows everything. We’re not quite there yet, but I look forward to the day when a GP rings me about a patient and says, “I’d like to have a chat to you  – I believe your input may be valuable”.

Here’s hoping.

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