Traditional versus alternative medicine is an issue that requires a great deal of inspection and assumption. The purpose of both types of medicine is to have a healthy, strong, and fit body. Specialists differ in their opinions on this topic and their views are based on the advantages and disadvantages of both types of medicine. This essay will define in clearer terms how Alternative medicine differs from Traditional medicine in its definition, approaches, and advantages. Traditional medicine can be defined as conventional or contemporary health science, medical technology, surgery, and related practices.
It is based on the scientific study of diagnosing, treating, or preventing a disease (MacIntosh). Alternative medicine, on the other hand, is the aggregate of knowledge based on age old skills and practices (Magar). This knowledge is derived from the theories and beliefs of different cultures and societies for maintaining health. Thus, alternative medicines use unconventional methods for the prevention, diagnosis, improvement, and treatment of any form of disease. Practices such as massage therapy, aroma therapy, herbal medicines and acupuncture are included in alternative medicine and are not typically considered traditional.
Traditional medicine is also referred to as contemporary or western medicine. This approach concentrates on the cause of the illness and the attempts to describe the factors that result in the disease, how to prevent it, and what its remedial measures are. Traditional medicine usually uses dosages of synthetic drugs and surgical practices. Such types of medical practices treat each body part as a separate entity and are based on the theory that by studying each body part independently, an understanding of the body as a whole can be achieved.
Traditional medicine is referred to as the educational approach, where what is learned through years of schooling is applied. Alternative medicine is a healing process. Traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, yoga, and Chiropractic care are some popular examples of alternative medicine. This approach uses non-synthetic remedial measures such as herbs. The idea behind this approach is purification of the whole system, rather than eliminating the exact reason of concern based just on one body part. This treatment provides a complete remedy for the body, mind, and spirit.
Both of these types of medicines have their advantages and disadvantages and are often used in conjunction with each other. Traditional medicine is far superior in the case of life saving practices since it gives immediate results. For example, in a case of an accident that requires urgent surgery; traditional medicine has an upper hand and would be used far more often than alternative medicine. The field of medicine is incomplete without X-rays. CT scanning, surgeries ECT. on which alternative school of thought has little substitute.
Alternative medicine takes its time to show proper results and may not be suitable for cases that require immediate medical attention or life threatening incidents. However, alternative medicine has an edge on problems due to psychological factors where the body, as a whole, can benefit from treatment. Modern ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease, migraines, and stress related disorders have a healthier cure with the alternative system. A great benefit to alternative medicine is that the side effects are a lot less severe than that of conventional medicine treatments.
The intensive use of antibiotics and other synthetic drugs have sometimes been proven to cause more side effects than actually cure the problem. If we take the example of the most often complained about medical problem worldwide—the headache, and consider it in both systems of medicine under debate, we will conclude that in traditional approach, no satisfactory solution for this problem has come forward to be able to provide permanent relief from it. Very often, aspirin and other pain killers have caused more stomach disorders, than remedy for headaches. When over the counter remedies don’t work, prescription drugs called triptans are used.
(Hildreth) On the other hand, some practices of alternative medicine such as yoga, massage therapy, acupuncture, and the practice of “tai chi” can help alleviate the pain from headaches without any sort of side effects. In fact, the entire body is revived and invigorated through these types of sessions. Other than being a slower process of treatment, the use of alternative medicine practices has other shortcomings as well. If a person is on a traditional medicine plan already, the alternative plan can actually interfere with the treatment and vice versa.
This can result in the treatments having different outcomes in different conditions. Another problem with this approach is that the credibility of alternative medicine practitioners can be questionable, as their practices are handed down from beliefs, cultures, and theories, rather than proven scientific methods. Very little alternative medicine therapies are backed up by scientific confirmation and this is often the reason insurance companies refuse to pay for these types of treatments. This does not mean theses therapies do not work, it just means that experts have not studied them enough to know for sure that they do.
(Hirsch). Traditional medicine is backed by studies and scientific proof and many years of studying to enter into the field of traditional medicine. The major paradox arising in this modern era is that with the advancements in medical practices and drugs, the number of ailments are also increasing. The main purpose of both, traditional and alternative medicine, is to provide relief from illness and pains. However, with the development of every new measure of controlling a disease, a new disease emerges. Today, more people than ever are on various types of chronic medications. A healthy lifestyle seems harder and harder to achieve.
- Hildreth, Caroln J. The Journal of the American Medical Association Migraine Heachache Vol 301, No. 24 JAMA 24 June 2009. Web. 26 September 2011.
- Hirsch, Larissa. Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Teens Health. N. p. , Novemeber 2009. Web. 21 September 2011.
- MacIntosh, Anna. Conventional, Alternative, Complimentary, Integrative and Natural Medicine:The Grisanti Report. Townsend Letter. July 13, 2002. Web. 21 September 2011.
- Magar, Prashant. Traditional Vs. Alternative Medicine. N. p. n. d. Web. 21 September 2011.