The established point of view is that any medicine supported by scientific method and research is conventional whereas anything else is so called ‘alternative medicine’. The shortcoming here is that we dismiss hundreds of years of empirical evidence as unscientific purely because it does not conform to statistical analysis. It is an insult to our ancestors to assume that they continued to use certain herbs and remedies for hundreds even thousands of years when in fact they were not seeing results. The greatest scientific test is time.
We know that, for example, acupuncture dates back over fifty thousand years ago being used in some form by our cave dwelling ancestors. For at least three thousand years the Chinese have used acupuncture as a mainstay of clinical practice.
Today’s medical establishment accepts that acupuncture is of some moderate benefit in reducing pain and some types of inflammation. What western medicine cannot do is explain therefore how inserting a tiny needle on an innocuous part of the skin can affect the body’s pain receptors at all. If you accept that acupuncture works even in a limited way then you must concede that there is at least some validity on the foundation upon which it is based. Acupuncture postulates that we are electrical circuits wired with meridians which correspond to a physical organ of the body. So that through each meridian flows a kind of electrical energy or chi.
All meridians are replenished via the Governor and Conception Vessels in the centreline of the body. However outlandish this appears to western medical eyes we should ask ourselves why have millions upon millions of people continued to practice this form of medicine for thousands of years if it did not yield results? We are in danger of mistaking the tip for the iceberg.
If we contemplate homeopathy we then begin to question even the very premise of our contemporary scientific understanding. The idea that administering an infinitesimal amount of a substance for human consumption can have a physiological effect beyond that of a significant amount of the same substance defies basic laws of pharmacology.
Lest we forget our western medicine is founded on herbal medicine. About seventy per cent of modern medicines were originally plant based. Typically, common pharmaceuticals such as aspirin, in this case the herb feverfew, have roots in herbal medicine. Medicines are not discovered in isolation they emerge from a process.
Modern technocratic society is constantly filtering knowledge down a one way road. We continue to travel in one direction not considering that there may be a shortcut to curing a particular disease outside of our scope of thinking. So that we never investigate whether say the Bowen Technique or reflexology can cure arthritis, because we presume that the only cure is to be found in the direction our scientists peers are travelling in now. We forget that there are many manuscripts in say Ayurveda as in other healing modalities which suggest that we had cures at one time for some of today’s leading health challenges such as Parkinson’s.
There is no alternative medicine. All medicine is a form of healing. Which should probe not only the physical but the psychosomatic and metaphysical aspects of what means to be human. Western medicine can truly produce miracles. I sincerely believe that the advent of genetic medicine, stem cells and nanotechnology will extend the boundaries of present treatments. Whereby in the not too distant future many chronic and terminal diseases will be history. At the same time we should recognise that we are underestimating the potential of other forms of medicine purely because herbalists will never have the resources to compete with the pharmaceuticals giants. Equally, these multi billion transnational goliaths exert unquantifiable influence over our scientific and political establishment. The leader of the pack, US based giant Pfizer has a market capitalisation of nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars. More than most countries.
If the herb graviola could cure cancer you would not in law be able to sell the herb and claim its curative properties. Unless you had the millions required to carry out and pay for years of medical establishment approved laboratory research. Even if you did successfully prove that graviola could cure cancer you would not derive any commercial benefit because you cannot patent a herb which is freely available in nature.
The different healing traditions form part of the rich tapestry of discovery and information of different human societies at different points of time. To be willing to integrate diverse methods is the way to cultivate a truly global society. The sharing of experiences across societies and cultures provides us with the medicine of hope. And there is no tonic so powerful as the expectation that one day we will combine the best of what works in alleviating human pain and suffering. As Hippocrates, the father of medicine said ” wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity”.