Natural therapies, or traditional treatments, are not a recent phenomenum or a ‘new age‘ trend. They have been around for millennia as history shows. Many of these ‘practices’ have their origins in ancient Eastern nations, such as China, India, Malaysia, and even among the indigenous peoples of industrialised nations, such as the Aborigines of Australia, or the Native Americans in, well, America.
Traditional Chinese medicine is still very common in China with more than half the population using one or more of about 5,000 traditional remedies. Indian traditional medicine, commonly known as ‘Ayuverda‘ has been, and continues to be, practiced for almost 5,000 years. Native Americans were practicing natural healing long before Europe had began to develop ‘naturopathy’, and the ancient Mayans and Incas had already developed natural healing as a science when Europe was still living in caves. These indigenous peoples had accumulated a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and experience which was passed down through generations to future healers.
Unfortunately the advent of modern life and its increasingly disruptive effect on native cultures has caused much of this priceless knowledge to be lost, or rather, misplaced.
What was the basis of this early ‘science’?
These ancient healers viewed nature and the world in which they lived as a holistic balance. They observed the interaction of their community with the environment and the effect of elemental, seasonal, and climatic changes on its members.
They had a spiritual connection to the world and recognised that their actions and interaction had a great impact on their own natural balance and the world around them. They viewed any weakness or disease as an imbalance with the Laws of Nature requiring treatment to restore that balance by using the forces of nature to heal.
The most basic principle of natural healing was that disease and illness stemmed from some form of imbalance within the natural order; be it the accumulation of waste materials and toxins in the body, incorrect diet, improper care of the body, lack of care for the environment, its minerals and its nutrients, or even a decline in spiritual awareness. All of the early natural treatments were directed toward restoring this balance.
Modern day context
Our connection with the planet has become severely corrupted. In the rush for profits and the unabashed quest for materialism, mankind has lost its ability to maintain a natural balance. Today’s hedonism has led to a faulty lifestyle, creating stress, overwork, nervous exhaustion, and of course, the resultant illnesses.
In addition to this, people are losing faith in mainstream medicine and becoming more and more discontented with the ‘quick fix’ drugs and the slash and burn approach to treating disease. Increased public awareness of detrimental side effects and the failure of drugs to truly heal ailments has seen an increasing shift towards considering alternative options.
This is hardly surprising since prescription drugs are designed primarily to relieve symptoms of an ailment or a disease rather than eradicate the root cause. Illnesses that are caused by inadequate nutrition, excessive stress, and environmental pollution do not respond well to prescription drug therapies.
Thankfully, widespread access to the Internet is enabling mankind to revive much of the ‘traditional’ knowledge. The plethora of natural health information online has led to a profound shift in society’s health consciousness enabling patients to make informed decisions while considering alternative medical treatments.
The relationship between ‘Big Pharma‘ and those promoting the need for alternative treatments is contentious to say the least.
20-30 years ago, proponents of alternative therapies were being harassed, ridiculed, and dismissed as ‘quacks‘. Even today there continues a perception that ‘Big Pharma‘ is trying its best to delay research and development of ‘traditional’ medicines, either to ensure its continued monopoly and profits, or to make sure it gets the patent for some form of derivative from the natural source.
Any of you that have visited a local doctor or physician, in many cases, have felt that the doctor wasn’t really interested in listening to your full story but rather more interested to make a ‘quick buck‘, prescribe an ‘aspirin‘, and get you out of the door.
The healthcare industry’s scepticism towards alternative treatments is somewhat understandable given that much of the online information is written by laypeople (like myself) rather than by medical professionals.
In a world where the Western mindset is geared towards scientific analysis and proofs, rather than age-old wisdom, there is a concern from well-meaning doctors that many (perhaps a third) of such information recommending alternative approaches has not been scientifically verified for quality, safety, and efficacy, and may well indeed be harmful if not administered correctly.
It was precisely because of this that the World Health Organisation, recognising that some herbal medicines have successfully undergone scientific testing, established its ‘Guidelines for the Assessment of Herbal Medicines (1996)’. Essentially these guidelines call for the continued scientific study and controlled assessment of herbal medicines, while at the same time not ignoring the real life experience obtained from generations of traditional use.
The intent of the ‘Guidelines’ is commendable, but there are at least 1,800 identified alternative therapies to date; the question is, is there the will or the funding to conduct such a vast amount of research, testing, and classification. It is a daunting mission considering that the systems of care, the underlying mechanisms, and practices of indigenous cultures, are largely unknown in the western world.
The current school of thought
Science is beginning to confirm what ‘traditional’ and indigenous healers have known since the beginning of time, Nature is our friend and can provide us with what we need to maintain our mental, emotional, and physical life in a state of balance.
There is a growing body of scientific research that supports the effectiveness of many popular alternative therapies for specific health conditions. This has led to an increasing number of conventional doctors employing natural therapies to ‘compliment‘ conventional treatments. Many alternative practitioners are also beginning to view their methods as supplementing conventional treatments rather than replacing them.
However, it still remains that there is a significant disjunct in the fundamental philosophies of Western medicine and ‘traditional’ treatments. The alternative therapies aim to restore the body’s balance and facilitate the body’s internal self-healing ability; whereas Western medicine targets specific symptoms and diseases in isolation from other aspects of the mind and body. If the conventional mindset remains, it is questionable how effective adding or combining traditional therapies will be without adopting a holistic approach.
What should we do?
We have been created with the power of intellect, a heart, the ability to determine right from wrong.
There is no guarantee that the alternative natural therapies will cure us, but millennia of traditional experiences has demonstrated the power of nature to assist the healing process. The same can be said of conventional medicines, there is no guaranteed cure and in many cases unfortunately, it is only prolonging the inevitable.
True healing can only come if we lead a healthy lifestyle, consume nutritious foods, maintain a balance with our environment, avoid both physical and mental stress, detoxify our bodies, and for those who are spiritually inclined, maintain our connection with the Supreme being.
On a personal note, I firmly believe I healed myself of cancer by taking natural fruits, herbs, and concoctions of the two. Of course, I surrendered myself to my Creator and accepted whatever fate was going to befall me.
So, I urge you to read, learn, understand, and let your inner self guide you.
Please look around, comment on my posts, or contact me, let me know your thoughts or misgivings, I will do my best to help you out.