Pulse of Oriental Medicine: Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks
Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks

 
       
 
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In Defense of Western Medicine
By Brian Benjamin Carter

Brian is the founder of the Pulse of Oriental Medicine, medical professor at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and author of Powerful Body, Peaceful Mind: How to Heal Yourself with Foods, Herbs, and Acupressure.

I want to talk to you about a friend of mine.

He's often misunderstood and frequently attacked, but deep down, he's a really great guy!

I'm talking about Western Medicine. It may seem ridiculous to some that Biomedicine needs defending. But in some circles, such as our new-age-y alternative medicine circles, biomedicine frequently becomes the scapegoat, the bad guy, "The Man" who's keeping us down.

I have to admit, when I arrived at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine as a bright-eyed na´ve new student, I thought and probably declared, "Chinese Medicine can heal anything! Biomedicine isn't good for anything except emergencies. They're so foolish; they only treat the symptoms, not the root!"

Over the course of my education, I have discovered certain mature truths about eastern and western medicine. You might say I've become wise in my old-student-age. You wouldn't? Well, here they are anyway:

  1. Each medicine has strengths and weaknesses. No medicine can help every patient with every disease.
  2. The patient is more important than both the medicine and the practitioner.
  3. Healthcare practitioners can get along with one another if they let go of excessive ego about their training and themselves! And don't assume; Oriental Medicine practitioners are just as guilty of this as M.D.'s and D.O.'s.
  4. "Cooperative care" is when practitioners in various types of medicine team up to care for one patient.
  5. The patient needs one of their healthcare practitioners to be the primary gatekeeper or case manager. In California, at least, this could be the Oriental Medicine Doctor. That requires respect from the patient's other doctors (see #3).

The ideal is patient-centered care wherein various doctors put aside their own egos and together use whatever aspects of their training are effective to get the patient well.

With that in mind, each healthcare profession has certain responsibilities. For one, doctors need to learn about the true efficacy and scope of each medicine. Egotism can very cleverly prevent this.

For example, M.D.'s have been slow to admit to the damage done by corticosteroids and antibiotics. Some may still refuse to recognize the success of acupuncture and chinese herbal formulations even in those conditions where there are good randomized clinical trials to back it up.

On the flip side, alternative practitioners tend to maintain at least as much ignorance about biomedicine. All drugs are not bad. All western medicine does not treat just symptoms. Alternative medicine treatment alone could, in certain situations, put the patient at risk. We need to be just as open minded and willing to learn about the pro's of biomedicine as the con's.

So, If you find me in a car wreck, take me to the ER! But if I get hepatitis C or AIDS, I'm trying herbs first. If I can avoid the aggressiveness and side effects of biomedicine, I definitely will.

Doctor image courtesy of Getty Images

 
       
 
All information herein provided is for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of appropriate local experts and authorities.
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