alternative medicine, Mary E. Tinetti, Terri Fried, The End of the Disease Era,

When Alternative Becomes Mainstream

When Alternative Becomes Mainstream

© 2006 Wellness Clubs of

When I am asked, as I often am, “What prompted you to start practicing alternative medicine?” I hesitate. I know that I cannot explain in a brief, casual conversation why I do not consider what I do “practicing medicine”. It will be difficult, if not impossible, for the person to grasp the concept that I am avoiding the medical approach to illness.

The practice of medicine is defined as the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines alternative in two ways. These are: 1. Existing or functioning outside the established cultural, social, or economic system and 2. Something that can be chosen instead.

Teaching individuals how to support their body’s intrinsic, God-given healing mechanisms is not practicing medicine. It is, however, outside the established cultural, social and economic system of this country. What I offer is not alternative medicine; it is something that can be chosen instead.

You may be thinking that I am “splitting hairs”, but I believe that the distinction between alternative medicine and alternative guidance is extremely significant. The appearance of a special article in the February 1, 2004, issue of the American Journal of Medicine supports my position. The article by Drs. Mary E. Tinetti and Terri Fried of the departments of Internal Medicine and Epidemiology at Yale University School of Medicine is entitled “The End of the Disease Era.”

Tinetti and Fried write, “The time has come to abandon disease as the focus of medical care . . . medical care that is centered on the diagnosis and treatment of individual diseases (is) at best out of date and at worst harmful. A primary focus on disease may inadvertently lead to undertreatment, overtreatment, or mistreatment . . . medical care must evolve to meet the health care needs of patients in the 21st century.”

The current mainstream medical model approaches the human body as an enemy that, when it becomes diseased, must be attacked with knives, drugs, radiation, and various other modalities. The concept that the body is a strong ally in the battle against illness is, for the most part, missing or overlooked.

Symptoms, the body’s early warning signals, are not used as a guide to correct the conditions predisposing to illness, but are declared diseases to be attacked and destroyed. Diseased organs are not given support and nourishment, but are routinely poisoned into submission or surgically removed.

There are times when drugs or surgery are indicated to preserve life and restore health. In many instances they are not. This is especially true when symptoms become diseases and the treatment of diseases becomes an end in itself.

While we pride ourselves as living in an advanced civilization and medical science boasts that it has left the age of superstition behind and entered the era of “evidence-based medicine”, I believe that the Golden Age of American medicine will be viewed historically as one of the most barbaric in all of human history.

I am one of a relative handful of people in my generation who still has tonsils. When I was a child tonsillectomies were commonplace. Tonsils were regarded not as an integral part of the body’s defense system, but as a superfluous nuisance to be removed as soon as possible. A single episode of tonsillitis, during which the tonsils became enlarged as they fought off a viral or bacterial invader, would mean surgical excision, either immediately or during the coming summer vacation.

About the time I entered medical school the tide began to turn. Tonsillectomies were still performed, to be sure, but only in conjunction with the placement of plastic tubes in eardrums to prevent ear infections or after at least three episodes of tonsillitis. The indications for tonsillectomy gradually became more limited, and the procedure is relatively rare today.

This does not mean that medicine as a discipline has become enlightened or more humane. Gall bladders have replaced tonsils as dispensable tissues in the war against disease. Gall bladders that have become inflamed or distended due to blockage of the drainage duct with a stone do require surgical removal, but those are the exception. The vast majority of cholecystectomies (gall bladder removals) are performed on perfectly normal gall bladders that are suspected of causing upper abdominal pain and are said to be “non-functioning”.

Logically, however, an absent gall bladder is a non-functioning gall bladder. If the pain were truly due to the gall bladder’s failure to function it would be impossible to eliminate the pain by removing the gall bladder. In most instances the pain is actually due to a slightly displaced rib or other skeletal dysfunction.

Individuals who are found to have cancer are routinely poisoned. In some instances, such as childhood leukemia, this has proven to be effective in eradicating the disease. In others, however, it does little but diminish the quality of life of the person’s life. Studies have proven that aggressive chemotherapy not only worsens the quality of life but also shortens the length of survival in metastatic breast cancer.

When the burping of babies, the fidgeting of children, the indigestion of overindulgence, and the shyness of young adults are considered diseases to be treated with dangerous chemicals medical science has run amok. It has overstepped the bounds of compassionate support and entered the arena of callous intervention.

Doctors Tinetti and Fried are correct. It is time to put an end to the disease era. It is time for alternative to become mainstream. It is only when the incredible healing capacity within the human body is recognized and embraced that illness will recede. The currently accepted practice of viewing the body as the enemy will only create more disease, further suffering, and perpetuate what is referred to as a health care crisis. The health care crisis will only be resolved and wellness restored when what is presently alternative becomes mainstream.

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