Complementary & Alternative Medicine VS Allopathy

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) refers to the practice of using natural ways to help the body heal from a disease. CAM is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices and products that are presently not considered part of conventional medicine (Allopathy). These include the practice of Ayurveda, Homoeopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and thousands more.

Allopathy on the other hand refers to the practice of conventional medicine that uses pharmacologically active agents or physical interventions to treat or suppress symptoms or pathophysiologic processes of diseases or conditions.

Interest in CAM has been surging throughout the world so much that recently in Europe, a bill to forbid TCM has been tabled thanks to the pressure from the pharmaceutical industry.

Some of the reasons why patients are seeking CAM include dissatisfactions with modern healthcare providers and medical outcomes, side effects of drugs and high costs. Patients also prefer CAM systems over Allopathy because CAM systems focus on healing the body, mind and spirit, instead of just alleviating the symptoms of the disease. Modern research and development in technology has also helped enhance the treatment procedures offered by CAM systems.

Allopathic doctors today have become so specialised in treating the body parts that they forget that the whole body should be seen functioning as One. Holistic treatment is one of the characteristics of CAM. The human body is treated as a whole and not merely the disease causing the symptoms.

Allopathic medicine relies on the concept of identifying diseases and symptoms before prescribing drugs to manage or alleviate those conditions. In this system, the disease or symptom is considered to be the actual problem, as opposed to CAM’s approach of addressing the underlying causes that produced the disease or symptom.

Treatment in CAM are more individualised to the extent that it may vary for each patient as compared to allopathic medicine that tends to merely suppress the symptoms with the same types and doses of drugs for all. CAM is therefore more personal and flexible in its approach, and has big appeal among patients whom have failed therapeutic outcome after consuming allopathic drugs.

For example, a conventional doctor who has 20 patients with asthma will often provide each of them with the same protocol, thus treating the condition and not the patients themselves. An alternative medicine practitioner realises that asthma has many causes. Perhaps the cause is an allergic reaction, or a viral infection, or even maybe diminished nerve supply due to a misaligned spine. CAM practitioners work towards finding the root cause of each patient's condition and treat each of them differently. This difference between approaches is the cornerstone of alternative medicine.

CAM is also more personal than allopathic medicine because of the fact that CAM physicians spend a longer duration to assess and diagnose the disease. Feedback from the patients during diagnosis are also critically analysed to find the root cause of a particular disease. Most allopathic physicians on the other hand merely have contact with patients as low as 5 minutes for the diagnosis process, especially in the ever busy government hospitals. CAM’s effective link between physicians and patients therefore helps result in a more accurate diagnosis.

Nonetheless, allopathic medicine excels in emergency situations, especially those which would be otherwise fatal such as life-threatening accidents, illnesses and diseases. Alternative medicine may not do much of a success in emergency situations as it is not designed to be so. Although this is so, allopathic treatment does not perpetuate good health in the long term as many side effects of the drugs administered have been observed. According to the principles and philosophy of CAM, long-term suppression of symptoms may give rise to newer diseases as the previous toxins responsible for the initial problem were not completely eliminated from the body system.

CAM, which used to be the default medicine system before Allopathy took its place, and for which we owe our existence to since it helped maintain our ancestors’ health for centuries, should be revived and developed extensively. The effectiveness of CAM does not mean that Allopathy has no place, but the view that Allopathy is the answer to all diseases ought to be changed.

There may be a need to take the best out of both worlds so as to ensure a higher quality of health among patients. In recent years, CAM is increasingly used hand-in-hand with allopathic medicine. For example, aromatherapy may be used to help lessen a patient’s discomfort following surgery. Beginning of the year 2012, the government of Malaysia has also affirmed the efficacy of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) by setting up nine TCM units at local major government hospitals.

Published on Holistic Living Annex (February 2012)

Posted by Sandhya Maarga Mission on 07:30. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

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