Peoples of all cultures have from the beginning sought ways to heal, cure disease and achieve wellness. The world’s primary systems of medicine still predominate in regions surrounding their geographic area of origin although modern economic developments brought access to technology, communication and education, and with all that, western evidence based medical practice, with its schools and credentialing.
Despite the monopoly of orthodox medicine, modern preferences have been increasingly favoring the natural therapies. Concern has arisen regarding the high cost and undesirable side effects of Western medicines. People enjoy empowerment through self-administration of non-prescription medication and perceive greater safety in the herbal preparations. Orthodox western medicine as well, with its symptom focus, has had limited success in treating patients with chronic symptoms such as back and neck pain arising after injury, manifestations of arthritis, rheumatism as well as other autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.
Forty per cent of the Chinese population still addresses health issues through its 2500 year old Traditional Chinese Medicine using tools of acupuncture, moxibustion (burning a herb above the skin, applying heat to acupuncture points), Chinese herbal medicine, dietary therapy, tai chi and qi gong (practices involving movements, postures, coordinated breathing and mental focus). If anything, TCM has gained respect and popularity worldwide. The 2015 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine, for instance, was won by Youyou Tu for her discovery of artemisinin, an antimalarial drug credited for saving millions of lives. The substance in plant form has been known to Traditional Chinese herbal Medicine practitioners for centuries as qinghao su or sweet wormwood.
Ayurvedic Medicine, more than 3000 years of age and our oldest system, originated from the Indian sub-continent and is still going strong. A preliminary clinical trial in 2011 funded in part by NCCIH, found that conventional and Ayurvedic treatments for rheumatoid arthritis had similar effectiveness. The conventional drug tested was methotrexate and the Ayuvedic treatment included 40 herbal compounds. Clinical trials remain difficult however, as the philosophy of Ayuvedic medicine differs from Western pharmacology which designs drugs fitting a generic human under the assumption that in sharing same anatomy and physiology, we would all respond similarly. Many herbal medicine systems however, do not perceive the disease to be different from the patient. Ayuvedic physicians prescribe individualized treatments, herbal compounds, diet, exercise and lifestyle recommendations.
All the major systems of medicine concur that diet, exercise and stress reduction are among the strongest pillars supporting the essential foundation for good health.
In launching vitalitylifeline, we felt it necessary to dive deeper and embrace the approaches outside Conventional Western Medicine, modalities already used today by millions of people, either uniquely or in tandem with conventional practice.
The object of these reviews will be to provide a summary of the many important support systems available to us all, any one of which could serve to underpin our wellness, peace of mind and happiness.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has long realized the role of traditional, alternative and complementary systems of medicine in the healthcare sectors of both developing and the developed nations, coining the slogan: “Health for All”.
The WHO has been proactive and made it a priority to bring world acceptance of these traditional systems through recognition of a real need for their services. In a recent review the WHO compared and contrasted these commonly used traditional therapies and therapeutic techniques: Chinese Medicine, Ayuveda, Unani, Naturopathy, Osteopathy, Homeopathy and Chiropractic. This respected organization has made significant effort in bringing legitimacy to alternative care.
In the same spirit, over several installments, vitalitylifeline will consider a selection of these major systems as well investigating other philosophies of healing and health: Mark Hyman’s functional approach, Josef Schier and the principles of bioregulatory medicine, the pioneering and wholistic spirit of Dr. Rao, Andrew Weil’s Integrative techniques and Linus Pauling’s concept of Orthomolecular Medicine.