Comparing the Medical and Natural Therapy Systems?
Article by Dieter Luske - Editor for useNature
Comparing the Medical and Natural Therapy Systems is like comparing Apples and Oranges.
Whoever compares those 2 systems, or is rubbishing one or the other, fails to see the possible benefits of those systems working together for the good of all.
The Natural Therapy System is blamed and criticized for 3 main alleged problems:
Treatment systems and therapeutic agents have no scientific backup, no double blind testing and no enough evidence.
Fraudulent Treatment for monetary gains.
Specific Products not being save or fraudulent.
Point 2 and 3, are totally up for discussion, improved monitoring and regulations are essential.
Accredited Natural Therapists are as much appalled by fraud as anyone.
However, one cannot condemn all Natural Therapies by concentrating on some fraudulent practices. Unfortunately fraud is everywhere, including in the fields of medicine, politic, churches, police, nothing seems to be capable of escaping fraudulent influences.
Therefore the fraud charges against Natural Therapist and Natural Products should not be confused with honest practitioners dedicated to support health.
That leaves the main important point; is there enough evidence that Natural Therapies and Natural type of Medicines are effective?
To discuss this in a logical and scientific manner, it can’t be a discussion of comparing Apples and Oranges.
Most of the critic comes from the medical and scientific community, and understanding and trying to enforce their medical system as the basis of testing Natural Therapies.
This clearly is comparing Apples and Oranges. Enough of the fruit business now ….
For this discussion, I will only use the modality of Naturopathy as an example; even so Naturopaths use many different treatment modalities, or I may use sometime the term “Complementary Therapy”, which obviously is even more vague than Naturopathy, but makes sense in the way it "complements" the medical system. We got the terminology, we just need the medical system to accept it :-)
A Naturopath often is described as a Natural Therapist "GP", with other words; a Naturopath is not a "specialist" for a specific body system or disease.
The main difference, and why the systems can’t be compared, is their philosophy and the different set of goals.
Both systems are dedicated to Health, but each system comes from a different view point with different underlying philosophies.
The modern Medical System evolved out of an assumption that the mind and body are separate.
Diseases are viewed as breakdowns and the symptoms are treated with drugs, or if needed, surgical intervention.
Complementary Therapies aim to treat, support the entire person, not just the symptoms, they take a holistic (whole) approach.
The Medical System is actively treating a diagnosed disease by medical drug or surgical intervention.
It also can be stated, that most drugs, even so they may be absolutely necessary for someone, have side effects and are predominantly "maintenance"treatments.
NOTE: I am not objecting to the above, but I am suggesting that research into minimizing side effects, and cures, rather than "maintenance" are required. I will present another article about the pitfalls of financed research.
The Complementary Therapy System works from a different direction altogether. It is important to stress here, that a different direction in no way implies that it is better, just different.
The complementary system is aimed at "Prevention and Supporting Health", rather than "fighting" a disease. In fact natural therapies tries to avoid warfare metaphors for obvious reasons, warfare always creates suffering, side effects and “lateral damages. In a war, there are no winners, just different levels of losers.
A Naturopath is not diagnosing a disease state!
A Naturopath understands symptoms, as guidance of what needs supporting within a body system.
There is scientific data that a painkiller works to stop pain. The evidence of that can be easily tested in a double blind study.
Lets use pain as an example, or more specifically, a frequent headache pain.
If a GP has ruled out any serious cause of the frequent headache, a painkiller may be suggested, which will help to stop the pain, but will do nothing or little about what the pain is caused by.
(Disclaimer; I am not suggesting that I know what a specific GP would do, I simply use it as a general example to clarify the difference between the systems. )
A Naturopath will work with the patient’s symptoms in order to find a way to stop the recurrence of the headache. If there is no serious condition causing the headache, the Naturopath will look into various body systems that may cause the symptoms.
As most people carry a lot of stress, a few therapeutic massages combined with some recommendation and demonstration of specific exercise may be all what is needed to stop the frequent headaches.
Other possible causes are digestive and diet issues. A simple solution may be just the elimination of certain junk foods and drinks; more complex issues may combine new diet outlines and elimination of possible food intolerance's.
How would it be possible to “double blind test” above type of Naturopathic treatment?
Each patient is different, even if it would be possible to find 100 people with frequent non-medical-serious headaches, how could a Naturopath do a double blind test? Each of those 100 headaches sufferers may have different combination of causative factors producing their headaches.
On a personal note, I know for a fact and have plenty of evidence, that Doctors have neither time nor the training to follow all the different pathways to find and treat a headache. (a headache is only one example of many)
80% of patients who visit a Naturopath come for 2 reasons:
They have a symptom that they want help for.
They have consulted their GP’s before, usually had tests done, a serious disease has been ruled out, but they received no satisfactorily treatment or suggestions for their remaining symptoms.
A large part of the community seeks answers from Naturopaths, but Doctors often do not approve of that. However, Doctors, by not having answers to functional symptoms may be part of the reasons that patients go to a Naturopath in the first place.
This clearly demonstrates that finding a way for both systems to work next to each other and “complement” each other, is vital.
Not only preventing to get sick in the first place, but also preventing in getting more sick or diseased.
Prevention in the natural therapy sense is to recommend lifestyle changes or address un-dissolved symptoms to make sure those symptoms will not develop into a more serious disease.
It has to be acknowledge, that a General Medical Practitioner may not practice this type of prevention. The medical system seems to wait for a problem to become treatable, rather than preventing it.
Naturopaths do have plenty of evidence that their health supporting treatments do work. However, by being “holistic” and supporting a person’s health and healing abilities, specific evidence is only possible by comparing a specific patient before and a few month after the natural treatment advice.
Effects of therapeutic massages can be verified, lymphatic drainage by example can be even visible verified, and the obvious change of swollen ankles before and after drainage massage can’t be disputed.
Naturopaths work with nutrition, diets and possible food item elimination. Just 30 years ago, the medical system was still skeptical that diet had anything to do with diseases. These days, it is a well-researched fact, and scientific evidence is plentiful.
Most complementary therapies are based on anatomy and physiology and modern medicine has included some holistic approaches to healthcare and has adopted therapies from complementary medicine.
Many complementary therapies that have been validated are now used by Doctors, but are still disputed if practiced by Naturopaths, like nutrition, lifestyle advice, nutritional supplements’ such as folic acid and others.
A survey conducted in 2008 revealed that 65 per cent of Australians use complementary medicines.
Most Natural and complementary medicines can be bought without prescription; however, they may still have side effects or interact with other drugs, that’s why it is important “not to self-prescribe”, you need to visit a accredited complementary practitioner, or a holistic GP.
Naturopaths never claim to be able to cure or sell products that cure. Everything, the treatments, supplements, and herbs are always seen as supporting a system and someone's Health, and not a “cure” .
By the way, the comparing of the system is the main stumbling blog, why people entrenched into the medical system, can't go past their own belief system to see the viability of a different structured natural system.
Therefore, complementary medicine may be the appropriate term to complement modern medicine rather than competing with it.
Article by Dieter L. - Editor
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