Conventional and nonconventional medicine

Yesterday I was talking to a friend about alternative medicine. My thought was that for a lot of what ails people the concepts need to be reversed. What is called “alternative” should be more aptly called “conventional” and what is “conventional” should be “alternative” or at least see them all as part of one picture of various modes of help.

My friend said in response that the problem with alternative treatments is that they’re not reliable. A conventional method will help the majority of people the majority of the time while all kinds of other methods are very unpredictable and you can’t use it knowing: “This is what’s wrong. This is what you have to do and you just know you have an excellent chance of it helping.”

I thought to myself later that maybe the attitude itself is part of the problem. If we have a more sure guarantee that a particular treatment will work it’s probably a sign that we’re not working with nature to find out what’s going on and how to intervene in a friendly way.

Alternative medicine isn’t a sure-fire fix because it’s an approach of engaging natural processes, and that requires a greater degree of exploration as to what your nature and your condition will respond to.

Again, I’m not against conventional medicine. I’m in favor of using it in conjunction with alternative medicine, and using a combination of one or the other depending on what makes the most sense.

It seems to me that there is a deeper issue going on in the controversy people have over this. I wonder whether the more conventional approach – when no space is made at all for the nonconventional – may be related to an attitude that sees a dichotomy between body and soul and does not feel at home in the body. Thus, when the body is out of sorts, we must get it to get back in line and behave itself immediately.

On the other hand feeling at home in the body might perhaps invite a more understanding approach that is willing to test out different possibilities even if something does not work instantly.

Of course the severity of pain and suffering and illness will influence this question but in the case of mild discomfort and chronic problems people take very varied approaches in their attitude and response.

I’m putting it out there as a question.

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