Over the past 20 years, I’ve noticed a trend people are forming with regard to the responsibility they hold for their own health: More and more people are opting for holistic, natural remedies rather than the latest medications (which not-so-surprisingly end up being recalled or halted) or invasive medical interventions. While I’m thrilled about this – and the responsibility people are taking for their own health – I can’t help but ask the question: When did natural remedies become the “alternative”, and the medical profession’s idea of chemically-altered human beings become “mainstream?” When did our natural chemistries become so bad that we need these ‘cures’?
What’s been making our lifestyles so chemically-unbalanced and drug-dependent that those conditions became the norm, and their drug-remedies considered “mainstream”? …yet my form of restoring balance naturally became known as “alternative?” Since when?
These questions have many facets, so let’s deal with them one by one.
The definition of “healthcare.” There was a time when the definition of “healthcare” meant “free from disease”, and ways to keep you from needing reliance on the medical fields. Remember hearing “eat right and exercise?” How about “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?” You seldom hear those phrases anymore simply because healthcare doesn’t mean “care for your health” as much anymore. The definition of healthcare itself changed into drug-based “disease-care” (Similarly, “health insurance” is more like “prescription-cost-insurance” or “disease insurance” – if you think about it).
When did the principle of supporting healthy lifestyles and doing things to avoid physician reliance turn into the medical application of introducing drugs into the body that try to block, imitate or replace normal nerve, chemical or organ function? As the definition of healthcare morphed to the medical and drug-based one above, chiropractic would have to naturally be removed from that new drug-based definition. Over the years, chiropractic care has maintained it’s purpose, it’s drug-free discipline and it’s principle of keeping people healthy and functioning as best as possible by removing nerve interference. THAT is the true definition of “health care”. But the accepted definition of “healthcare” now has drugs as it’s basis, and that leaves chiropractic care and other drug-free disciplines out of the drug-based definition. Most people associate the terms “health care” with going to their MD and being given medicines, but since medicines are drugs, they now associate “healthcare” with taking drugs.
Secondly, the phrase “alternative medicine” – The phrase “alternative medicine” got introduced simultaneously as the definition of healthcare got hijacked in an attempt to further isolate time-honored, conservative forms of true “healthcare” with the growing acceptance of drugs and “disease-care.” The change didn’t occur quickly, but it became introduced in conversations without explanation – leaving the listener to default it into whatever health remedies were left over. And where does the “medicine” part come in, even if it’s natural? Does everything have to be termed a “medicine” of some sort…? Herbal medicine? Physical medicine? CHIROPRACTIC medicine?? There are no such things, but don’t tell that to an insurance company that naively lists THOSE exact benefits in your health plan. So again…”alternative”, but compared to the drug-based definition.
Thirdly – “A feat of linguistic ledgerdemain” (read: ‘word association’) – The terms “traditional” and “mainstream” make it seem as if they are universally accepted, time-honored forms of
“medicine”, uh drug-care… uh, healthcare, and anything other than that is…well…risky and worthy of hesitation. The AMA has only been around 30 years longer than chiropractic, but how does such a radical change from time honored natural means to a drug-based and chemical one automatically allow for the terms “mainstream” and “traditional” to automatically be applied to it? People have been walking on backs and treating with herbs since the ancient Egyptians and Chinese were doing it and achieving therapeutic benefits, so why don’t they qualify for the terms “traditional” or “mainstream” based on chronology alone? Do other societies that don’t rely on medicines and vaccines only use “alternative” healthcare methods? Their means may still be considered mainstream to THEM, right? Were they informed that the definition of their only means of healthcare was altered? So, remember that change in the definition of ‘healthcare’ I mentioned? Well, the association deception had begun.
My definition of ‘mainstream’ is totally different: Mainstream forms of healthcare are comprised of natural things that you can do to keep you healthy, not to introduce chemicals, medicines and toxic substances once a disease has started. By contrast, “alternative” healthcare would be implemented when something different from a natural or holistic state existed, or comes from an outside source. Interestingly in my field – chiropractors discuss HEALTH; medical doctors discuss sickness and disease. Which would you prefer? I know if I were in a desolate area of the world with 100 people around me, I could still enhance the health of each of them by introducing a healthier diet and spinal adjustments delivered by hand. The medical profession can’t say the same. So to me, that is a true definition of HEALTH care.
As I mentioned, the trend I’m seeing in my office is one of realization and a more health-conscious individual. Patients are seeking resolutions to CAUSES of their problems, and not a means to mask their problem with a medication that has a dozen side-effects. And while this boom in natural, conservative treatments is real, I strongly feel that the medical professions’ bombardment of drug ads has finally turned the public off. They’re realizing that is NOT ‘mainstream’ healthcare. Certainly not in MY book, that’s for sure…!
Since I deal most often with structural injuries and maintaining a healthy immune system, I can tell you that the medical treatments toward these physical/structural ailments (short of emergency care) are archaic. If the medical profession didn’t have pain-killers and anti-inflammatory drugs, they would be completely useless and even THOSE only mask the symptoms. They don’t address the cause of pain. Yet somehow, mysteriously, that medical way of only treating the physical symptoms (spasms, pain and inflammation) got to be considered ‘mainstream’, while treating the cause is ‘alternative?’
I don’t get it. To me, what they do is called experimental and risky. No one knows what the introduction of those drugs really does on any organ system…and it’s based on that principle alone that defines what we should really consider ‘mainstream’ and what we should really call ‘healthcare’…!