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I do not really understand why natural medicine is called alternative. What do you think?

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Talk to Your Doc Question of the day:
Dear doc, I do not really understand why natural medicine is called alternative. What do you think?


Alternative is a word often used to describe any medical therapy not regarded as orthodox.
My question in response to this definition is: Relative to what? 

In the last 100 years modern medicine has emerged…with benefits AND  disadvantages.

The benefits are obvious: for example, surgeries that save lives and medications that alleviate major pain provide respite for many. The discovery of modern medicine is remarkable when used wisely.

But like anything that is not used wisely- problems arise sooner, or later.

Anti-biotic resistance is one such problem we are dealing with today- but that is for another blog post.

Prior to the last 100 years, people relied on mother nature for medicine…what some may consider to be alternative was mainstream for a long, long time all over the globe, across every continent. Many countries have a rich history in the development of medical and healing practices that worked with plants, food, energy medicine type practices and more. 

I love science- in fact, studied it in university for years..my favorite subject was biochemistry. Since those early years, I have come to realize that mother nature`s intelligence offers more then simply science.  Mother nature is incredibly complex. She offers art, wisdom, science and a potential experience of the sacred- if one is open to it.

Speaking of the sacred, I am  reminded by an experience I had when I was in naturopathic medical school. We were at the cadaver dissection lab, led by the brilliant Gill Hedley, PhD and story-teller of the sacred which exists in  physical form. I had a very strong palpable understanding in that lab that we as human beings are truly sacred. I felt a deep reverence for the immaculate design of the human body. Where did this come from? Who is responsible for this miracle of life!? Experiences like this are unforgettable.

As a practitioner, my intention is to encourage healing in each person by using the least invasive methods first, which often include: nature’s medicines such as food, plants, remedies, traditional healing modalities and a change in perspective in thoughts which effects emotions and overall ability to access a state of inner peace. I also can prescribe medications if needed, when needed.
One of the oldest systems of medicine, Ayurveda means “the knowledge of living” or the “science of longevity.” In the ancient americas, healers tuned into the healing properties of plants. Various cultures had healers and doctors that were connected to something greater then themselves for guidance, wisdom and deep strength.

Some of my closest friends are allopathic physicians and we share often about different perspectives in treating certain conditions. I am an advocate for team work, collaboration, sharing information in the name of the most important factor: the well-being of the patient.

Natural healthcare is primary healthcare for those who choose it, and this number is growing. More and more people are wanting to finally treat the root cause of their ailments, not just the symptoms. More and more people are acknowledging that isolating one system from the whole in and of itself is not logical. More people want to be proactive and prevent potential suffering and become inspired and empowered when it comes to their overall health and well-being.

SO what do I like to call natural healthcare?

It is life affirming medicine. It is medicine that INSPIRES you to be better- not just physically but in all aspects of who you are…because you are with your entire self ALL the time (I will write another post on INSPIRED MEDICINE next time).

It starts with small steps. No matter where you are, you can make a choice to move towards health or away from it. Towards life or away from life. Each little choice we make adds up to behaviors that shape who we become and what we inevitably stand for. 

A focus on prevention, treating the root cause, teaching the patient about how to live a good, healthy life, first do no harm, treating all aspects of a person, taking into account how the body works as a whole and supporting the body to heal itself innately: the essence of natural medicine.

And let us remember that in essence, we collectively have a lot to learn about healing. Illness still exists as an epidemic globally. Infection illnesses and genetic predispositions are one thing, but illnesses that stem from our own actions and lack of actions is another. Something is not right. Asking questions can open us up to what we did not know before, but perhaps what we need to know to live a good life with well-being.

The greatest gift we can give ourselves is the chance to learn- but this requires above all- an open mind. A wise mentor of mine said, `Always remember beginners mind. It will allow you to go far in life.`

And finally, let us remember that which allows us to be here, to breathe, to live and to discover more about who we are each day.





May triumph and inner peace prevail. 

Thanks for reading and leave a comment below if you have some thoughts to share!

  1. Tara Woodruff
    | Reply

    I agree 100%. Alternative Health should be Primary Health and Modern medicine more like a last resort.

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