By Dr. Valinda Gueye
The times when allopathic medical care is actually needed, should be thought of by the patient as the times where time is not of the essence, and the disease process is moving faster or has progressed farther than a natural remedy might be able to combat, also, in rare times when a person has broken a bone. Exploring back to the roots of medicine one will find options that are more personal and self-centered forms of healing.
Traditional Medicine has been documented and practiced for over 5000 years, while allopathic medicine has only been in existence for 200 years. Traditional Medicine comprises of medical knowledge systems that developed over generations within various societies before the era of modern medicine. It is a form of medical philosophy, which incorporates, for the most part, therapeutics in their most natural state. The practice of natural medicine can incorporate almost any form of alternative therapy and often transcends schools, using many philosophies to treat a given patient, with the emphasis on individualism.
There are many Traditional Medical Systems more commonly termed complimentary medicine or alternative medicine. Natural Medicine Systems are often seen as an alternative to allopathic medicine found in the modern world, though for more than 70 percent of the world’s population, they are not “alternative,” but the primary approach to health care according to the University of Maryland School of Medicine, (VanScoy, 2004) while globally, herbalism predominate as the mainstream medical system. Though herbal medicine has an unfortunate and cloudy reputation in the west, its use is documented by far more longitudinal success than drugs, used commonly in allopathic medicine. World Health Organization states that 80% of the global populations are dependent on herbal medicines as their primary health care The World Health Organization(WHO) estimates that over 4 billion people, 80% of the world population, use herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care. (Freeman, and Lawlis 2001, 392).
In general, the natural medicine physician can study and practice any number of non-allopathic medicine and can be trained in many fields of study. The most common of which is naturopathy which is a cumulative study that prepares a practitioner for a career as a family medicine general practitioner and is licensed as such to prescribe natural remedies given the needs of the patient. The naturopath is a primary care physician, though in today’s conception is often a collaborative player in the health of their patients and will refer to allopathic medical providers for specialty care if needed.
Traditional Whole Medical Systems include: Acupuncture, Anthroposophic Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine, Chiropractic, Herbalism, Homeopathic Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, Siddha Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Acupuncture – Acupuncture is a component of the health care system of China that can be traced back at least 2,500 years. The general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow (Qi) through the body that are essential for health. Disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease. Acupuncture may, it has been theorized, correct imbalances of flow at identifiable points close to the skin.
Acupuncture is a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical locations on or in the skin by a variety of techniques. There are a variety of approaches to diagnosis and treatment in American acupuncture that incorporates medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries. The most thoroughly studied mechanism of stimulation of acupuncture points employs penetration of the skin by thin, solid, metallic needles, which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation.
Anthroposophic Medicine – is a holistic and salutogenetic approach to medicine focusing on strengthening the patient’s organism and individuality. The self-determination, autonomy and dignity of patients are a central theme; therapies are intended to enhance a patient’s capacities to heal. Anthroposophic medicine includes a range of interventions, both internal medications, external applications such as compresses, treatments such as massage and hydrotherapy, as well as social therapy.
Ayurvedic Medicine – is a system of traditional medicine native to the Indian subcontinent and practiced in other parts of the world as a form of alternative medicine. Ayurvedic practitioners developed a number of medicinal preparations and surgical procedures for the treatment of various ailments and diseases.
¥ Ayurveda focuses on establishing and maintaining balance of the life energies within us, rather than focusing on individual symptoms.
¥ Ayurveda recognizes the unique constitutional differences of all individuals and therefore, recommends different regimens for different types of people. Although two people may appear to have the same outward symptoms, their energetic constitutions may be very different and therefore call for very different remedies.
¥ Ayurveda is a complete medical system which recognizes that ultimately all intelligence and wisdom flows from one Absolute source (Paramatman). Health manifests by the grace of the Absolute acting through the laws of Nature (Prakriti). Ayurveda assists Nature by promoting harmony between the individual and Nature by living a life of balance according to her laws.
¥ Ayurveda describes three fundamental universal energies which regulate all natural processes on both the macrocosmic and microcosmic levels. That is, the same energies which produce effects in the various galaxies and star systems are operating at the level of the human physiology–in your own physiology. These three universal energies are known as the Tridosha.
¥ Lastly, the ancient Ayurvedic physicians realized the need for preserving the alliance of the mind and body and offers mankind tools for remembering and nurturing the subtler aspects of our humanity. Ayurveda seeks to heal the fragmentation and disorder of the mind-body complex and restore wholeness and harmony to all people.
Chiropractic – is a health care discipline and profession that emphasize diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine, under the hypothesis that these disorders affect general health via the nervous system.
Herbalism – is a traditional medicinal or folk medicine practice based on the use of plants and plant extracts. Herbalism is also known as botanical medicine, medical herbalism, herbal medicine, herbology, and phytotherapy. The scope of herbal medicine is sometimes extended to include fungal and bee products, as well as minerals, shells and certain animal parts. Pharmacognosy is the study of medicines derived from natural sources.
Homeopathic Medicine -was first proposed by German physician Samuel Hahnemann in 1796, in which practitioners use highly diluted preparations. Based on an ipse dixit axiom formulated by Hahnemann, which he called the law of similars, preparations which cause certain symptoms in healthy individuals are given in diluted form to patients exhibiting similar symptoms.
Naturopathic Medicine – Naturopathic medicine is based on the belief that the human body has an innate healing ability. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) teach their patients to use diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and cutting edge natural therapies to enhance their bodies’ ability to ward off and combat disease. NDs view the patient as a complex, interrelated system (a whole person), not as a clogged artery or a tumor. Naturopathic physicians craft comprehensive treatment plans of natural medical approaches to not only treat disease, but to also restore health.
Osteopathic Medicine – is a branch of the medical profession in the United States, with recognition outside the US in forty-seven countries, including most Canadian provinces. Frontier physician Andrew Taylor Still founded the profession as a radical rejection of the prevailing system of medical thought of the 19th century. Still’s techniques relied heavily on the manipulation of joints and bones to diagnose and treat illness, and he called his practices “osteopathy”. By the middle of the 20th century, the profession had moved closer to mainstream medicine, adopting modern public health and biomedical principles. American “osteopaths” became “osteopathic physicians”, gradually achieving full practice rights as medical doctors in all 50 states, including serving in the US armed forces as physicians.
Siddha Medicine – is a form of south Indian Tamil traditional medicine and part of the trio Indian medicines – Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani. This is a nearly 10,000 years old medical system followed by the Tamil people, both in India and abroad. This system of medicine was popular in ancient India. Due to the antiquity of this medical system, the Siddha system of medicine is believed to be one of the oldest medical systems. Generally, the basic concepts of the Siddha medicine are almost similar to Ayurveda. The only difference appears to be that Siddha Mmedicine recognizes predominance of Vatham, Pitham and Kapam in childhood, adulthood and old age respectively, whereas in Ayurveda it is totally reversed: Kapam is dominant in childhood, Vvatham in old age and Pitham in adults.
Traditional Chinese Medicine – Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has formed a unique system to diagnose and cure illness. The TCM approach is fundamentally different from that of Western medicine. In TCM, the understanding of the human body is based on the holistic understanding of the universe as described in Daoism, and the treatment of illness is based primarily on the diagnosis and differentiation of syndromes.
The TCM approach treats zang–fu organs as the core of the human body. Tissue and organs are connected through a network of channels and blood vessels inside human body. Qi (or Chi) acts as some kind of carrier of information that is expressed externally through jingluo system. Pathologically, a dysfunction of the zang-fu organs may be reflected on the body surface through the network, and meanwhile, diseases of body surface tissues may also affect their related zang or fu organs. Affected zang or fu organs may also influence each other through internal connections. Traditional Chinese medicine treatment starts with the analysis of the entire system, then focuses on the correction of pathological changes through readjusting the functions of the zang-fu organs.
Evaluation of a syndrome not only includes the cause, mechanism, location, and nature of the disease, but also the confrontation between the pathogenic factor and body resistance. Treatment is not based only on the symptoms, but differentiation of syndromes. Therefore, those with an identical disease may be treated in different ways, and on the other hand, different diseases may result in the same syndrome and are treated in similar ways.
The clinical diagnosis and treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine are mainly based on the yin-yang and five elements theories. These theories apply the phenomena and laws of nature to the study of the physiological activities and pathological changes of the human body and its interrelationships. The typical TCM therapies include acupuncture, herbal medicine, and qigong exercises. With acupuncture, treatment is accomplished by stimulating certain areas of the external body. Herbal medicine acts on zang-fu organs internally, while qigong tries to restore the orderly information flow inside the network through the regulation of Qi. These therapies appear very different in approach yet they all share the same underlying sets of assumptions and insights in the nature of the human body and its place in the universe. Some scientists describe the treatment of diseases through herbal medication, acupuncture, and qigong as an “information therapy”.
Other therapies include Acupressure, Chinese martial arts, Chinese pulse diagnosis, Coin rubbing, Cupping, Food therapy, Jing, Meridian, Moxibustion, Neigong, Qigong, Seven star, San Jiao, Shiatsu massage, Shen, Taijiquan, Tao Yin, TCM human body Meridian/Channel system, Trigger point, Tui na massage, and Zang Fu theory.
Vanscoy, Holly, Sept. 2004, “Alternative Medicine Slips into the Mainstream” Health
Daily News. Website: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=39348
Freeman, Lyn W., and G. Frank Lawlis. 2001. Mosby’s Complementary Alternative Medicine: A Research-Based Approach . St. Louis, MO: Mosby
(If you have comments, you may contact Dr. Valinda P. Gueye, at (310) 549-9171 or go to www.gueye.com ).