February 21, 2017

Let’s Work Together! Why It’s Not About Conventional Vs. Alternative Medicine

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Spend enough time in the right (or wrong) places online, and it’s amazing to see how quickly people take sides. When it comes to health issues, you will see the anti-vaxxers and the pro at each other’s throats. You see mental health skeptics battling with survivors, conventional vs. alternative as well.

It’s easy to start thinking “What has happened to us as people? Why are we taking sides on something this serious. For all that we talk about caring about health, a lot of people are just here for the rage!”.

In truth, part of what leads to this anger on both sides is that it is an emotive subject. Of course health questions will raise hackles. When it comes to issues like mental health, there are those who think medication and counseling are essential.

When they hear others say that exercise is all it takes to cheer you up, of course they will see it as an attack. It’s not just a disagreement. In each side’s eyes, the other side is actively harming the hypothetical patient.

When it comes to the branches of medicine we will call “conventional” and “alternative,” the battle lines are also drawn. Even though both of these terms are quite unsatisfactory for what they describe. And in this battle at least, there is a large crowd that doesn’t want to take a side.

 

What IS Conventional?

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For the purposes of the debate, conventional medicine is anything doctor-led or administered in a hospital. From a quick visit to a GP to an application on https://nationwideprescriptionconnection.com/faq/, and beyond. It’s what most people think of when they hear “medicine.”

And “Alternative”?

acupuncture legsSource

Alternative medicine, then, is used to refer to other ways of battling illness. If you think of alternative medicine, you may call to mind aromatherapy, herbal supplements or homeopathy. And this is where a lot of the issues arise.

Because there are few official bodies relating to alternative medicine, anything can fall under that term. Thus it becomes easy to dismiss an entire range of treatments based on the fanciful claims of just one.

On one side, then, we have the conventional. Angry at the alternative for playing fast and loose with the idea of medicine. Determined to refer to it as woo, or other skeptic terms such as http://skepdic.com/woowoo.html . The alternative, in return, are furious at the conventional for pumping people full of pills they don’t need.

 

It Doesn’t Have To Be Like This

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As you find out when you have cancer, it’s pointless squabbling about conventional OR alternative medicine. It’s really quite welcome to have the chance to take some of both. Ask the chemotherapy patients whose nausea is soothed by inhaling ginger oil or drinking ginger tea. And your condition does not need to be that serious to make it worth taking from both camps.

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Humanity seems determined sometimes to split itself into camps. And if it must, may I suggest something? Instead of being “Conventional Medicine vs Alternative”, can we agree to be “Medicine of Any Kind vs Illness”? Because diseases are a side that it’s worth getting angry at and vowing revenge on.

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