Western/Conventional Medicine
Western/Conventional Medicine

First of all one should ask… why use the term Western? This implies there is also Eastern Medicine...and indeed there is. It is not well known in the good ole’ USA that there is something besides going to the conventional Doctor (M.D.) when you’re sick. The vast majority of people in the USA think that if your Doctor (M.D.) says this or that, that’s it, end of story, there are no other choices: medications, surgery, radiation, or it’s all in your head, see a shrink, or you’ll just have to learn to live with it. If you’re reading this, I assume you know otherwise. Great!

So here’s what’s up! Besides conventional Western Medicine, there is Chinese Medicine (which includes acupuncture, herbs, diet and nutrition, massage, and exercise) from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, etc; Ayurvedic Medicine from India (which includes diet and nutrition, herbs, meditation, exercise including Hatha Yoga, detoxification and cleansing, Vedic astrology, life style modification); Tibetan Medicine, somewhere in between the last two; Shamanic healing, Homeopathy, Western Herbology, Chiropractic, Osteopathy, Meditation, body work aside from Chiropractic, like Rolfing, Hellerwork, Bowen therapy, and Alexander technique. Furthermore, there is Energy work like Reiki, Crystal healing, Sound and Light therapy, Spiritual healing and the list goes on.

I am fortunate to have my feet in many camps and I started with Western Medicine, graduating from University of California at Irvine Medical School in 1968. So I have been practicing “Western” Medicine for nearly four decades. I value it immensely and have a strong foundation in all that I have and am still learning from this modality. I use it daily, primarily with diagnosis and to some degree with treatment. Using prescription medications, though is not something I like to do unless absolutely necessary because these medications tend to relieve or eiminate symptoms (most everyone likes the easy fix) without tending to the source of the symptoms. This is where Holistic Medicine and Healing come in, which I shall address on another page.

Having said this, I must admit that prescription meds have their place, and I do use them. For example, some people need antihypertensives, better to bring the blood pressure down from serious elevations rather that risk a heart attack or stroke; better to control serious elevations of blood sugar in a diabetic person, than to risk the consequences

of diabetic complications, eg. Neuropathy, vision disturbances, cardiovascular disease; better to use antidepressants than be so down that you can’t function or are suicidal; better to use pain meds than to be incapacitated with chronic pain; better to use antibiotics that die from bacterial pneumonia.

There is no question medicaitons have their place. The problem lies in the fact that they are grossly overused and abused by doctors and their clients/patients. The 3rd leading cause of death in the USA, after cancer, and heart attack, is America’s health system, according to Barbara Starfield, M.D. in the Journal of the American Medical Association, July 26, 2000. Starfield sites some 12,000 deaths per year due to unnecessary surgery, 7,000 deaths per year due to medication prescription errors in hospitals, 20,000 deaths per year in hospitals due to other errors, 80,000 deaths per year due to infections contracted in hospitals, 106,000 deaths per year due to the negative effects of drugs. This totals 225,000 deaths per year and wins the esteemed honor of 3rd place!

Even with these staggering negative statistics, what Western Medicine does well, it does very well so lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Technology, for example has advanced so far that it makes the American health care system the best place in the world to be for trauma cases such as a car accident or gun shot wound….this is where I want to be for that! And hey!, what about Lasix surgery. WOW! I began to wear glasses at age 10, and contact lenses at age 15, and 3 years ago I had the Lasix procedure and now I have 20/20 vision unassisted!

Furthermore, Western Medicine has advanced considerably in the area of labroratory testing and science, notably nutritional biochemistry. Nowhere is this more evident than in Functional Medicine (See heading under Modalities).

My holistic medical practice is founded on getting people off their meds rather than putting them on more. A key issue I have with Western Medicine is its fundamental point of view. Here is my point of view (based on practicing “Medicine” for the last 39 yrs) of Western Medicine’s point of view.Ever since I can remember (and that goes back to medical school, 1964-1968) the emphasis in Western Medicine has always been on pathology, that is, on disease. We, as physicians are trained to recognize and diagnose disease...and then treat it, which usually means medications, and if these don’t work, then surgery, and if this doesn’t work or isn’t possible,

then we resort to the point of view that “there is no cure, you’ll just have to learn to live with it!”

Many physicians (in this context I mean M.D.s), certainly not all, but I’d guess the majority, view their patients as a disease: a hepatitis case, a migraine case, diabetic, hypertensive, arthritic, menopausal female, osteoporotic, neurotic, co-dependent, etc. You’ll notice all these terms describe what’s wrong, not what’s right, about the person. Most physicians don’t know much about the patient’s occupation, family life, marital status, sexual orientation or sexual life, exercise frequency or type, childhood history, birth history, accident history, number of marriages, diet and nutritional history, or the person’s strong points, eg. Great singer or writer, philanthropist, or athlete, big brother, or teacher, great with children, etc. Yet all of these things and more are usually connected to the person’s disease state, and should be taken into consideration. One can’t take these into consideration if one has no context into which they might fit. In my estimation, each person that I see is whole and complete with a life like a tapestry that is so interwoven with all it's parts that no one part of it (such as a disease) can truly be separated out and treated.

Then there is the subject of touch. Western Medicine has gotten out of touch, literally. It’s so important to touch the patient with love, with compassion, it is a part of healing that needs to be emphasized, and emphasized in medical school. My acupuncture Master, Dr. J.R.Worsley, taught me about this.

And there is the rest of the healing world. Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine, with which I am most familiar, don’t treat pathology, they treat the LIFE FORCE, what the Chinese call, Ch’i and Ayurveda calls Ojas. The very definition of the word Ayurveda is “Science of Life”. We help people to strengthen their Life Force, so that it is stronger than their Death Force. Acupuncture, good quality herbs, organic foods, exercise, massage, Chiropractic and Osteopathic adjustments, meditation, chanting, prayer, positive thought, staying in the present, LOVING AND CHERISHING ALL HUMAN BEINGS……..these all help to stimulate, and strengthen the life force, and integrate and harmonize a human being.

Western Medicine could do this and some docs do, but it certainly isn’t emphasized, and it certainly should be...startin in medical school.

If you made it this far, you've done yourself a favor. I encourage you to read about alternative modalities.