Monday, January 21, 2013

The Politics of Health

Alternative Medicine:

I was thinking about the quarrel (well, fight to the death, actually) between conventional medicine and alternatives like herbal or holistic medicine. So, I did some research to see if I could figure out what's the big beef between these to approaches to healing. I always believed that herbal medicine pre-dated conventional medicine by thousands of years. It turns out that it doesn't, not by THOUSANDS, anyway! Conventional medicine appears to be younger than herbal medicine by only about 1,100 years.

Here's what I was able to turn up: The first text known to deal with health and healing is "The Vedas" and is attributed to a fellow in India by the name of "Srila Vyasadeva" around 1500 BC. It details the first known uses of herbs and Yoga for the treatment of ailments. These books are, roughly, the equivalent of Christianity's Bible in that it is a founding religious text, only in this case, for Hinduism. This text is believed to be the foundation of all medical practice that followed.

The father of conventional western style medicine is largely believed to be Hippocrates who developed and formally taught the foundation of modern western medicine. He wrote the "Hippocratic Oath" which is still widely used today. He did the bulk of his work around 400 BC in Greece. No big surprise there, you probably already knew that.

Around that same era, the first practice of herbal medicine in China is believed to have been developed by a man named Shennong, who practiced and taught herbal medicine during the Han Dynasty around 200 BC. Shennong's text, "Bencao Jing" is believed to be the first Chinese herbal medical text. However the Ayurvedic Medicine, developed in India over a century before, is believed to be the foundation of all medicine that followed including Chinese, Native American, Aztec and Greek approaches.

All of these approaches to healing seem to have co-existed peacefully up until around 1860 here in the United States when the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) was formed to regulate the safety of medicine in response to early "Snake Oil" remedies that either did not work or were believed to be causing illnesses.

The 2 most famous of these "Snake Oils" survive today. We call them Coca-Cola, which up until the early 1950s contained concentrations of cocaine, and Dr. Pepper with its 23 "Flavors". The 3 numbers on the label of Dr. Pepper products produced up until the early 1980s referred to the times of day the remedy should be taken.

It was around that time that Natural or Holistic approaches to healing began to fall out of favor with the medical establishment that grew out of the American Medical Association (AMA), which was founded in the late 1840s and the FDA. Herbal healing was lumped together with the infamous "Snake Oils" of the wild and wooly 1800s and therefore pushed out of mainstream medical practice as voodoo medicine.

At about he same time, drug companies were beginning to spring up to provide doctors and nurses with medications and preparations to cure a wide range of illnesses and gave us such wonder drugs as Quinine, Aspirin and Penicillin, all three of which are still widely used because they're just that good at what they do and have comparatively minor, to no, side effects.

The relationships between the AMA, the FDA and Drug Companies grew tighter and tighter, as time went by, mainly because they depended so much on one another. This further estranged them from Herbal and Alternative healing approaches. Alternative and herbal treatments, since then, have been generally limited to American Natives who had been using them for a couple hundred years and small town doctors who were open minded enough to learn such arts from them.

I'm reminded of the TV series "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman". Glamorous as the series made the frontier practice of medicine look, it was largely accurate and, as it turns out, there actually WAS a Dr. Quinn who practiced around the 1870s in the territory now known as the State of Colorado.

For western approaches to medicine, this was roughly the time period when the rift between Conventional and Holistic Medicine began. The whole conflict was about Money and Power! Surprised? The United States is among the most wonderful (meaning "Full with Wonder") places on earth! I've seen a lot of it and I can testify to that! HOWEVER, we have made a few mistakes along the way, kind of like me personally (but that's a story for another day).

I believe this is one of the mistakes we made as a culture, this conflict between Conventional Medicine and Alternative or Holistic Medicine. I've actualized, personally, the benefits of both and it kind of distresses me that, on a purely political level, they simply will NOT work together! On a purely medical level they are positively meant for one another!

All you have to do to get what I mean is to go to a drug store in Canada or Mexico, or for that matter, just about any other country outside the US. Notice what remedies for common ailments they have on their shelves. Almost all of them are herb-based preparations!

Most common ailments will respond well to Alternative or Holistic treatments and most of those treatments have minor, or no, measurable side effects. On the other hand if you need to lose weight, for example, and you are willing to put up with significant side effects like, QUOTE "An increased need for bowel movements combined with a decreased ability to control them", then by all means get your doctor to prescribe "Meridian" for you. You may shit your pants at inopportune moments, but you'll look FABULOUS doing so!

My point is this: For catastrophic illness, Conventional Medicine has no equal! Conventional Medicine is rude and intrusive to your system and sometimes that's what is medically called for. In those situations, my advice for what it's worth is; Don't settle for anything less! But for common ailments, nothing can beat Alternative Holistic Medicine. It's, comparatively, kind to your system, carries few side effects and is consummately effective.

Don't be caught up in the politics of medical care. Your health is WAY too important to be left to such political rivalry. By all means, consult with your primary care Physician about ALL of your health concerns and make sure he, or she, knows what you're doing, but trust Nature to help your system heal itself when it can and trust your Doctor when it can't!

For more information about Alternative and Holistic medical remedies for common ailments, please visit It's for your own good!

Much Love,

For more information about Natural Alternative remedies for common ailments please visit

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