Natural Medicine -
a New and Ancient Frontier
All medicine came from
natural medicine --
and it still works!
traditions can help you
take charge of
It began with simple observation -- people noticed certain results from eating particular foods or plants. Maybe they watched animals, who fasted when sick or wounded, or instinctively ate a special plant if bitten by a snake.
Knowledge accumulated, and, after a while, some people started to specialize in healing. In a simple form, the medical profession was born.
Over the last hundred and fifty years, the learning accelerated, because of increased availability of books and the ability to travel. Information from many countries could be more easily shared, and the volume of facts grew. At the same time, industry made it possible to produce large quantities of medicines, to
meet the needs of a growing population.
But medicine began to acquire massive dimensions – too many facts for anyone to absorb. No single doctor could know it all, and they began to specialize.This has benefited individual patients amazingly, especially in terms of pain-control. But it has also led to confusion among ordinary people, and an almost superstitious fear of managing their own health. Even in my own lifetime, I remember when many people used to do just that!
And today, with all the information on the Internet, more of us are being reminded that, for many aspects of health, older ways can play a valuable part in our lives. The acronym “CAM” stands for “
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
,” a broad category including health and healing approaches from around the world, including natural medicine.
The word “complementary” describes an element that completes the picture when combined with something else. Conventional medicine and natural medicine are complementary -- added together, the two can form something greater than either.
“Conventional medicine” is accepted medical practice in the country where you live, and it can vary widely. In China, it is standard to combine Eastern and Western practices in their hospitals, while in the US it is not. One notable exception in America is acupuncture, a mainstay of Chinese Medicine, which is now commonly used to alleviate the gruesome side-effects of chemotherapy and drug addiction.
At its worst, conventional medicine can deteriorate into manipulating symptoms with drugs, with little or no understanding of the real cause of the illness. The patient’s hope of getting well is taken away as more symptoms appear, and are treated with more drugs. Some people have to take 10 to 20 medications a day.
A friend I knew was on 22 medications a day, deathly ill, and knew she was going to die, anyway. For myself, I would have burned them, taken a three-stage enema, fasted on orange juice to flush the system, and followed up with a series of castor oil packs. When you’re that ill, you don’t have much to lose, but many are still afraid to lay aside convention, and try natural medicine.
On the other hand, my mother is 98, and won’t take any drugs! She is her own advertisement for natural medicine, and tells me that her doctor was incredulous to find out she wasn’t on any medications. It’s a personal choice – arguments may rage, but the patient has the last word: They know whether they’ve been healed or not. (Come take a look at some home remedies that were in her first-aid kit when I was growing up. And learn how you and your family can more easily use natural medicine by moving toward a natural life!)
Medical philosophies and the practice of natural medicine vary, depending where and how they were developed. Herbal medicine occurs everywhere, a fundamental element of all healing disciplines, including Ayurveda, from India, and Chinese Medicine.
Natural remedies are found inside the house and out, and everyone used them, until over-the-counter medications took over. For example, check out some ways of maintaining eye health naturally. The modern Western idea of Holistic medicine, with its mantra of
body, mind, spirit,
has its roots in Eastern natural medicine.
Every doctor knows there are many factors in healing. I think that
gave us a vital clue when he said it depended on the individual’s consciousness. Is this scientific, by current standards? No. But that doesn’t mean there’s isn’t any science to it. We just don’t understand yet.
The best way to guard your self-health is choosing the right blend of conventional medicine and complementary alternative medicine: Dr. Robert Pendergrast is a noted holistic MD who brings together conventional and natural medicine to give his patients safer options. Check out his excellent site at
Other practical branches of natural medicine are massage, chiropractic, and yoga, all with their Western and Eastern roots.The good news for alternative medicine is that that there are many endeavors of cooperation in medicine with other countries. The merging of natural and conventional medicine is inevitable, though perhaps not in our lifetime.
But some amalgamation has already occurred: I still remember, not so many years ago, when Chinese doctors astounded the West by using acupuncture to operate without anesthesia, a method they had been using in natural healing for thousands of years!
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