Holistic Medicine and Alternative Medicine
When examining the subject of medicine. it is easy to think only in terms of conventional (or mainstream) medical treatment. By contrast. holistic medicine is an approach to health care that focuses on prevention of illness and disease and is aimed at treating the whole person-body and mind-rather than just thepart or parts in which symptoms occur. Under this approach. it is important that people not look solely to medicine and doctors for their health. hut rather that people engage in health-promoting behavior, Likewise. medical professionals must not only treat i’lIness and disease hut also work with the patient to promote a healthy lifestyle and self-image. Manypractitioners of alternative medicille-hcaling practices inconsistent with dominant medical practice- take a holistic approach. and today many people
are turning to alternative medicine either in addition to or in lieu of traditional medicine. Jill Neimark tells how she feels about the !WO types of medicine:ld Iike to make a confession: I believe. I believe in the brilliance of Western medicine, in the technological wonders of organ transplants. brain scans. and Iaparoscopic surger;,-and J also believe that shamanic healers from ndigenous cultures have discovered treatments for illnesses that traditional medicinecan’t touch. that the mind alone can trigger and then reverse illness. that dietary changes. along with vitamin and herbal supplements, can powerf ully impact the course of disease. I believe in merging the best of both worlds-the orthodox and the alternative. I’m not al~e in my belief This is a season of unprecedented possibility in medicine. And yet in spite of the tremendous changes. there ;s still some resistance from mainstream medicine. as well as . ~rnment and the pharmaceutical industry.
One can almost fed the tectonic plates of convcntional and holistic medicine crashing up against each other and realigning the landscape of health care. (Nelmark, 1997).
Are medical doctors as opposed to alternative medicine as Ncirnark indicates? In understanding the medical stablishment’s reaction to alternative medicine. it is
important to keep in mind the philosophy of scientific medicine-that medicine is a science. not an art. Thus, to the extent to which alternative medicine is “nonscientific; it must he quackery and therefore something that is undoubtedly worthless and possibly harmful, Undoubtedly. self-interest is also involved in mainstream medicine’s reaction to alternative medicine: If the public can be persuaded that scientific medicine is the only legitimate healing practice. fewer health care dollars will be spent on a form of medical treatment that is (at least to some extent) in competition with the medical establishment (Weiss and Lonnquist, 2009). But if all forms of alternative medicine (including chiropractic. massage. and spiritual) arc taken into account. people spend more money on unconventional
therapies than they do for all hospitalizations (Weiss and Lonnquist, 2009).