Main stream medicine versus traditional and alternative medicine and is it time to bring them together?
Listening to a talk by Medical doctor and traditional medicine enthusiast Frank Lipman highlighted this question recently.
Lipman talked about his time practicing acute medicine in apartheid segregated South Africa, serving in all black hospitals less affluent than the white Medical centres he couldn’t assess patients with fancy testing, or sophisticated clinical labs and would after basic tests make diagnosis only based on time spent, discussion and observation with the patient. When he moved to Boston in the US ‘the advanced medicine’ required in acute care only depended on procedure & tests and almost entirely lacked or missed an aspect he believed to be important to healing, that aspect was connection and faith between patient and doctor (healer). Be that connection placebo effect or something more complexly neuro biological he saw it to be profound. Just as where in South Africa patients would recover after seeking “treatment” with a healer or wise elder even in acute and complex cases a pattern of the same was evident. From there Lipman took up many years of study in acupuncture and an studied effective use of alternative medicine alongside the mainstream.
This audio recording by Lipman came to me a few days after picking up a copy of the BMJ and in the complementary health feature (which You might be surprised to see in the first place) an excerpt from recently published book ‘the dangers of complimentary medicine by ????’ strongly suggested that complimentary medicine is both pointless but also potentially dangerous. He makes valid points about malpractice, non accredited practitioners, he references the false hope created by a practice such as crystal Healing picking perhaps the most tenuous of complimentary treatment approaches rather than a more scientifically supported approach like acupuncture. I felt mad but also thoughtful -some of what he said was true and a quick Google told me he was actually a complimentary medicine advocate – how confusing is that!
He references false hope but It’s ‘false hope’ that might be the key here right!?. With our physical and psychological so intrinsically linked I wonder to myself if a little ‘false hope’ isn’t exactly what’s needed.
Working with mental health I’ve seen many incidents of those needing consistent support being overly lead by relatively un evidenced ideas like tarot cards or prayer rituals but this is often in desperation for the answers that mainstream medicine doesn’t have. It’s also a psychological repetition of ones inability to trust themselves and listen to there own instinct and intuition – practices that can be powerfully led by non medical healers when they are practiced with integrity.
How about we train and educate people to listen to themselves and there bodies as an important part of mainstream healthcare?! Don’t get me wrong I truly appreciate GPs are sending people to my yoga studio and passing on the food pyramid but it’s not enough to outway cultural bombardment through media & external stimuli, it’s not enough to counter balance the demands of 21st century life. I hear daily that people are confused what to eat – what’s good or bad and one persons perfume is another’s poison so generic is ineffective anyway – we need to treat the individual and with specifics. That takes time and money and re prioritising. For many they look to mainstreamg healthcare to fix misfortunes that may arise and become frustrated when it’s too late, this is simply though what they’ve learnt to do right?! Thanks
In yoga with regular practice a relationship with self developes* it not only builds self esteem but a vital self awareness – the difference between a stretch and an over stretch. Between challenge in a pose and ego(perfectionism) between what energises and depletes.
in health coaching we look at Primary foods – not that which we put in our mouths (that’s secondary food) but what truly feeds us – relationships, work, play(hobbies) spirituality this approach shifts then what we put in our mouths, meaningful movement becomes less of a chore and even taking up meditation because it now makes sense to slow down and process
Health care that is a combination of treatment, advice and guidance (even medication) alongside major lifestyle changes.
Is that actually ‘nanny state’? In David Wolfes words Nanny is to care for after all** I understand as a coach people respond best when they determine solutions for themselves, after all as a child we get on very well with this instinct and intuition it’s simply in living life we begin to switch off to our bodies ability to heal itself and develop a propensity to want others to do it for us.
When a sufferer becomes heard, understood and connected to another the relationship with self is developed, even in those resistant to hear or with a limited capacity to understand. Lipman’s point.
There is a powerful value to be reasoned, beyond the reality that mainstream medicine largely treats after the illness/injury has occurred the patient relationship also then has to then be significantly different. Sure the patient is heard but does protocol & procedure over ride a physicians skill in seeing and feeling, it’s importance may be partially disregarded alongside techniques and technologies and also because it’s impractical it’s too late – disease has set in and it follows reason to get on with fixing it not indulging a patients neurosis – that’s for the psyche department.
With a rise in mental health, stress related diseases, crowded hospitals and time compromised health care workers it certainly seems reasonable that looking to prevention before cure be would economically wise. Undoing or outdoing a healthcare model firmly set in centuries of not just institution but miraculous discovery and amazing extension of life and quality of life overall – are things as bad as stats suggest?!
Privatisation of the National health service is a conversation for another day but integrative health approaches and functional medicine not only have there place but are likely the futures solution as we face populations living longer but inconsistently with poorer health despite much greater knowledge than a century ago, quality of life is impaired by obsiety, depression, diabetes a health care service amazingly keeping us alive but at a cost and in chaos.
I was asked to reflect on this subject for my current studies.
My book on how to integrate yoga lifestyle practices into daily life is in production, publication September 2018. Register interesting by signing up to my mailing list.
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