Friday, August 13, 2010

Alternative to medicine

Alternative medicine has been around since before it was the alternative.  Before we knew as much as we now know about the body (not a complete knowledge, but impressive) many of our maladies were treated with plants, prayers and, sometimes, rituals.

There are quite a few herbal remedies that would fall under the heading of "alternative" if we didn't know they worked.  Eucalyptus for opening the airways, cranberry juice for UTIs, vitamin C for colds.  Even so, we have over-the-counter versions of all of these, because many of us tend to trust what comes out of a bottle more easily than what comes out of the ground.

But what about the rest of it?  What about acupuncture, and faith healing, and reflexology?  Why in the world would anyone want to use alternative medicine?

The question may be more easily answered if it were slightly altered. Why in the world would anyone want an alternative to medicine?

As skeptical as I naturally am of techniques like acupuncture, I'm also growing increasingly skeptical of modern healthcare, especially here in my homeland of the United States.  A few of the factors that contribute to this skepticism are as follows:
  1. The eerie experience of watching an ad for medication.  Loved ones laugh and play together while an indifferent voice reads off a list of horrible side-effects that the medication may cause.  Some of these pills seem like an illness in themselves.  If you watch television, I'm sure you don't need any examples.
  2. The fact that simply remaining alive can sometimes cost as much as a very nice house.  I don't care how anyone justifies it, it's wrong, and is effectively evil.  I understand that the price of healthcare (at least in the US--I've never lived abroad) is the product of a system, not necessarily the decision of any one person, but something more needs to be done.  
  3. The fact that, when I'm at the doctor's office, it too often feels like the docs are just making a wild guess, and ignoring half of what I tell them.  I don't know what causes this, but I know that I go to the doctor's office less often than I used to.
Thinking about visiting the doctor makes me wish for an alternative, myself.  The only alternative to medicine that I truly believe in, though, is living healthfully so that you don't get the illness in the first place.

Thanks for reading.

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