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Many of the alternative health care delivery systems predate the allopathic mode of treatment, but remained popular only in the pockets of their early existence. The popularity of allopathic mode of treatment stem from the quick pace of relief it is able to give in most cases if not curing the cause giving symptomatic relief. As mans pace of technological growth increase so did his desire for quick health care delivery systems to which allopathic mode of treatment was well suited. The fast increasing rate at which the cost of the allopathic mode of treatment has climbed and continues to climb coupled with the increasingly established fact that in chronic diseases like arthritis and asthma the allopathic mode of treatment seldom goes to the root of the problem and only provides symptomatic relief are just two of the main reasons that have caused an increased re-look at the alternative health care delivery systems. The limited space in this paper permits a limited study of the major alternative health delivery systems in brief.
Right through the history of man several cultures have used many explanations and philosophies in their search for healthy lives. The present day models of allopathy stems from the contagion theory of disease and the suppression of the symptoms that result. It therefore makes use of medicines and treatment that target the harmful agents and the results of these harmful effects seen in the human body. The model that is just the opposite and believes in the like cures like principal is homeopathy, which developed subsequent to allopathy. This narrow logic requires the use of small amounts of the very same agent that gives rise to the symptom to give cause to the immune system to deal with it. The holistic health treatment looks at the possibility of illness from the widest angle possible. It looks for multiple causes and provides multi-dimensional healing in place of specific cures. (What is Holistic Health?)
It is more bothered with the propensity towards disease along with the transmission of it and seeks answers to questions like the reason why one person is more prone to colds when compared to another and may be at different times too and is it possible to make a person more disease resistant and should he feel ill more resilient. The holistic health is that these questions are answered in the positive and that 80% of our health problems arise from lifestyles, stress and behavioral disorders. The basic premise is that the human body knows how to take care of itself once it is given the required support. Keeping in mind an account of the state of the human body, mind, emotions and spiritual life the holistic health combines the most modern modes of diagnosis and monitoring services available with a combination of both ancient and innovative health promotional treatments. This form of treatment makes use of treatment forms like natural diet, herbal remedies, nutritional supplements, exercise, relaxation, counseling, meditation, breathing exercises etc.
It looks at the whole picture of the person including the person's present state of life, including family, work and religious life. The stress is on prevention, maintenance of health, and longevity. It looks at the person as an active participant instead of a passive recipient of treatment. We may differentiate the allopathic and holistic treatments in the manner of the focus. While the former focuses on measurements the latter does so on experience and allopathy may be better suited for infectious diseases, trauma, structural damage, organ failure and acute conditions, while the holistic treatment methods may be more suited to degenerative, chronic stress and lifestyle disorders, toxemia, glandular weakness, and systemic imbalances. (What is Holistic Health?)
Classical homeopathy was the brainchild of Samuel Christian Friedrich, Hahnemann in the 19th century. This development was a sequel to the then prevalent mode standard medical practice of phlebotomy or bloodletting. This mode of treatment to force out the disease from the body by bloodletting and thereby bring the humors to a proper balance was an extremely popular means of treatment in those days. Hahnemann disagreed with this and instead stipulated that helping the vital force of the body to restore its harmony and balance should treat disease. The use of purgatives and emetics in treatment was also rejected by him. In hindsight one finds that homeopathy appears more humane and with lower possibility of causing harm than the treatment modes of those days. Scientific medicine was in the process of development in those days and homeopathy would not grow with it.
Scientific medicine is essentially materialistic based on anatomy physiology and chemistry, while the cure in homeopathy is more based on metaphysical entities and processes. Hahneman looked upon dynamization as a process that released energy that was essentially immaterial and spiritual. Hahnemann did believe that health was a matter of balance and harmony but that it was the spirit in the body that did this balancing and harmonizing, in short healing. Homeopathy appears very modern in that it seeks to find the right drug for the illness, yet the drugs used are not to fight infection or rebuild tissue, but to assist the spirit to do its restorative work. Hahnemann believed that it just was not possible to understand the inner nature of the disease process and hence it was useless to base the treatment on that. The remedies in homeopathy are determined by the symptoms of the patient and not on the disease, which is supposed to cause those symptoms. (Homeopathy)
Ayurveda, when translated means science of longevity and is believed to be of divine origin. It is a Hindu medical system that had its origins more than two thousand five hundred years ago. Ayurveda outside the Hindu religious sphere and was adopted by the Buddhists and other religious groups. It has remained till modern times and is in the process of a comeback both in India and in the western world as it is seen that it compliments the Clinical model. Ayurveda is essentially a humoral system of medicine and disease is a result of imbalance in these humors. The three essential humours are Wind, Bile and Phlegm. Ayurveda believes that people are usually born in a state of equipoise and loose it fast by bad diet, bad treatment or re-locating himself or herself to physical locations that are not conducive to their natural constitution and temperament. All are advised to find out what are these optimum conditions and try and maintain them.
Diet is the main recourse to restore the imbalance in the humours. To become a qualified Ayurvedic physician requires seven years of training. These physicians treat illness. The recommendations will include a finely tuned diet as well as certain therapeutic techniques to address the serious imbalances of the humours. Ayurveda has a relation with the development of martial arts. Sushruta an ancient Ayurvedic surgeon identified 140 points of vulnerability in the human body more than 2000 years ago. These points have a lot of similarity with the corresponding pressure points in jujitsu and other martial arts. It is believed that Buddhist missionaries from India carried some of the early forms of martial arts and these became the precursors for the martial arts seen in China and the Far East. (Ayurveda: Medicine of the Gods)
Acupuncture became more known in the U.S. after President Nixon's visit to China in 1974. Reports from there suggested that serious surgeries were done with acupuncture as the sole anesthetic. Acupuncture is not just a pain blocker. It is a fundamental method of healthcare prevalent in the Far East. Acupuncture goes back to the Stone Age in China. Stone knives and pointed rocks were used to alleviate pain and disease. These stones were gradually replaced by bamboo needles and then onto slivers of animal bone and finally metal needles. The mapping of the meridian system of energy within the human body followed. A summary of the medical knowledge describing how acupuncture is to be used, moxibustion, pathology of the meridians and viscera, acupuncture points, indications and contraindications, and how to use the needles was compiled giving all the available knowledge in acupuncture in the old times itself. (Acupuncture FAQ)
In the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration -FDA, the main regulatory body in the case of food and drugs does not accept the evolution of medicine with regard to importance of plants. In fact it considers herbal remedies as without any worth and even dangerous. Therefore these products can be marketed in the U.S. only as food supplements. Should there be any reference to the ability of the product to treat ailments or any specific health claims without FDA approval it cannot be sold. Despite this skepticism by FDA a large number of Americans are gradually becoming interested in the alternative modes of treatment available. This has seen an increase in the availability of herbal products from all over the world and Ayurveda products from India in many…[continue]
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