Is “alternative” or “complementary” medicine really the new kid on the block?
Depending on whom you ask, Ayurvedic, Eastern, and naturopathic medicine, with their modalities of vibrational medicine, botanical medicine, supplementation, nutrition, lifestyle medicine, and nature cure, are variously considered late comers, amusing (or annoying) diversion from “real” medicine, or dismissed as an outright, unscientific fraud.
Actually, so-called “traditional” or mainline” pharmaceutical medicine is the relative newcomer on the scene.
Going back to primordial times, and across all cultures, we find oral traditions, written accounts, and archaeological evidence of the use of natural means to heal disease successfully. Indigenous healers have drawn on these cultural and spiritual insights, resources, and rituals to heal.
Medicine in the past was based on understanding the interplay of spirit and nature, the power of words and images, intuitive understanding, and centuries of empirical evidence passed down through the generations. Healers used what was on hand, whether plants, hot and cold applications, or food.
Hippocrates’ advice is well known. “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”
Substantial evidence indicates that consuming 5-7 servings of vegetables and fruits daily prevents disease and enhances health.
As “scientific” medicine has progressed, it has forgotten, denied, or suppressed the simple, obvious truth that what we put in our mouths is fundamental to our health.
Healing therapies based on nutritional wisdom and lifestyle changes are given hardly a passing wave in favor of pharmacological fixes for diagnosable disease.
Herbalists were among the first healers. While many of the plants they used in healing are still in use today, the common use of herbs themselves dropped precipitously with the introduction of synthesized drugs.
The pharmaceutical industry hasn’t entirely overlooked the healing powers of herbs. Following evidence from folklore and traditional healers, it has identified many plants that can heal.
Obsessed with efficiency and profit, the drugs companies have focused on isolating the active constituents of those plant medicines, while failing to balance them with other naturally occurring, protective components of the whole plant.
Excipients – inactive substances that serve as vehicles or media for drugs or other active substances – are added that may increase the potency of the medicine, but with side effects.
Costs increase as plant-derived medicines become patentable. Meanwhile, the use of the plants themselves is discouraged by the industry and disparaged as being “not scientifically proven effective and possibly dangerous.” Which, of course, is self-protective verbal hooplah intended to frighten consumers into buying their products.
Meanwhile, the mainstream media, eager to join the chorus of authority, admonish consumers to be wary of readily available, time-proven “folk” medicines.
Unsurprisingly, as pharmaceutical medicines become ever more expensive and toxic, interest in simple empirically proven remedies is rising.
Contributing to the resurgence is the decreasing efficacy of a number of modern drugs, accompanied by the emergence of symptom constellations that are unresponsive to treatment with synthetic drugs.
An example is the development of chloroquine-resistant malaria – which is responsive to the herbal medicine artemisia.
Ancient systems of healing acknowledged the vibrational essence of reality. Healers used their awareness of the vibrational world to heal with natural media and methods. Integral to the practice of medicine were words of power (chanting, affirmation, prayer, etc.), willful intent, symbolism, consciousness, and breath.
Over time, homeopathy, which is now disparaged and even illegal, was a dominant medical modality in the U.S. – as it still is, in parts of the world – until pharmaceutical medicine came along in the early 20th century.
Early, vibrationally based diagnostics and therapeutics are now considered “black box” medicine – even though they are, in fact, the foundation of current vibrational therapies such as photodynamics, pulsed electromagnetic therapies, magnetic resonance, and many others.
Our notion of physical reality radically shifted at the beginning of the 20th century, when Einstein and other scientists announced that the underlying reality of matter is energy. A growing number of physicists have come to suspect that energy is, in turn, a gross condensation of underlying patterns of consciousness.
The world we live in, and our human bodies, are composed, in descending order, of consciousness, energy, and then and only then, matter.
Our medical modalities are only beginning to reflect this ancient understanding.
While acknowledging the very real, lifesaving and often miraculous advances in scientific medicine, it would be well not to forget the lessons learned in thousands of years of holistic medical practice, based on the interplay of spirit and nature.
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