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Tracing the Roots of Alternative Medicine

Shery Russ

We can trace the roots of alternative medicine (also called holistic medicine) to ancient traditions dating thousands of years ago, back when people had a more philosophical view of health. Emphasis was placed on the totality or of a person, taking into account the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects.  It is this approach to the "whole" self instead of focusing on physical symptoms that differentiates alternative medicine from the conventional medical practice that we have grown to be familiar with today.

Modern medicine that we know has a high demand as people expect immediate results, all part of the instant gratification mindset prevalent in today’s generation. On the other hand, mainstream doctors generally are concerned only with the physical symptoms manifested by the patient and hardly care about anything else. The point of focus by today’s medical practitioners marks the dissimilarity between the old and the new.

Alternative medicine has withstood the test of time.  Despite the availability of modern drugs and pain killers, millions of people around the world still seek alternative medical treatments which include herbal teas, therapy, massage, herbal cures and a host of other methods. 

Borne out of the instinctive reaction to rub what is painful, massage is among the oldest forms of alternative medicine and perhaps the most popular today.  It is interesting to note that there is proof that ancient Egyptians availed of massage treatments during the time when they were building the pyramids. Massage continues to be enjoyed by the modern people who may not even be aware that they are applying alternative medicine.

Each of the world’s civilizations and cultures have had their own form of alternative medical treatment, from the ayurvedic medicine of more than 6,000 years ago and traditional Chinese medicine with over 5,000 years of history to the more current versions.  From their philosophies, techniques, and methodologies, the modern healers and practitioners have distilled the essential components making the present day alternative medicine quicker and more effective for us.

European history saw the branching of medical practice: Professional physicians who serviced the upper classes and folk healers who lived among the lowly peasants and provided treatments to the poor villagers who, with their faith on the available remedies, experienced getting well.  The same scenario is mirrored in other cultures.

Folk healers of the West were guided by philosophy in developing their holistic approach to medical treatment.  They included in their healing system the wisdom gathered through the ages by their forefathers which when fused with religious beliefs and their own knowledge of the villagers’ way of life enabled these healers to determine the best remedy for any ailment presented to them.

In time, folk healing and alternative medicine evolved into the contemporary methods available to us today. Through the centuries, the world has witnessed new developments and advances made in the field of medicine.

Even with the progress of mainstream medicine into its advanced state that uses high-technology, alternative medicine remains available to and is patronized by a great portion of the world’s populace.

Acupuncture, aromatherapy, herbal remedies, humor therapy, massage, meditation, and many other techniques have grown in popularity in the modern world such that they are no longer thought of as "alternative" and have been embraced by the traditional medical community as complementary health care measures to supplement their own medical practices.

Alternative medicine remains part and parcel of the world’s history.  Its effectiveness to heal, promote health, and prevent illnesses has ensured its survival through the years.  Being holistic and natural, these treatments may not bring about the instantaneous relief many may desire, but they can work. In the end, they could be prove to be a better option for some people.


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Health Disclaimer. Copyright ©2008. Published with permission. Shery Russ is a freelance writer and is not affiliated with avivahealth.com.


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