Contemporary Versus Alternative Medicine


As people become more and more dissatisfied with their current health care options, alternative choices are becoming more popular. Moreover, these days, it is much easier to find competent practitioners who provide a wide variety of beneficial services. Nonetheless, many people are still confused about alternative therapies, mostly because they don’t understand the key differences between contemporary and alternative medicine.

Comparative Views of Illness

Perhaps the most important place to start is to look at how contemporary and alternative medicines differ in their view of illness. Most people in the western world are used to the contemporary cause and effect view of illness. Simply put, if a person feels pain or any other symptom, they take a pill to reduce or eliminate that problem. It is generally assumed that once the symptom is alleviated that whatever caused the problem in the first place is also gone. No symptoms equal a healthy body.

Like contemporary medicine, alternative practitioners believe that the natural state of the human body is good health. Any problems, manifested as symptoms, indicate that the body is no longer healthy. Both contemporary doctors and holistic practitioners view symptoms as the trail of bread crumbs that lead to the cause of the problem.

This is where the similarities end. Contemporary doctors will take this information and label the problem with a particular name such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, or Fibromyalgia. Often, prescription medications and other treatments will then be given to provide relief from the discomfort of symptoms and to decrease stress on the body in an effort to reduce the likelihood of future episodes.

Alternative View of Symptoms

Holistic practitioners tend to take a slightly different view of symptoms. Each symptom is seen as the result of imbalance in the otherwise healthy system. This imbalance may be due to a physical or acute injury but may also have a mental, emotional, or spiritual origin. In this way, such issues are not necessarily limited to definable conditions such as cancer or schizophrenia but also include past trauma, unresolved emotional issues, or confusion associated with interpretation of specific religious dogma.

Practitioners often describe such problems as dis-ease, blockages, or stagnant energy. While the exact treatment varies with the expertise of the specific alternative therapist, the basis of treatment is finding an appropriate way to release the issue permanently. This may be done using bio-energetic methods such as Reiki as well as making lifestyle modifications to ensure that the symptoms do not return. Thus, alternative medicine tends to look at whole health healing rather curing a particular defined condition.