Today we have more choices at our fingertips than ever. This includes how we choose to approach our health and healing. Although the world of conventional medicine dominates most of modern society, we are seeing an increasing number of natural, alternative, and integrative practitioners and physicians appearing on the scene. In this essay we will explore how each of these approaches to health and healing work and why you may wish to reconsider your personal approach, depending on what is most important to you.

It is never pleasant to hear about illnesses or deaths, whether that be concerning loved ones or strangers. Yet current statistics show that:

  • Around 100,000 people die each year in the US from pharmaceuticals

  • 3 times as many people die from legal (prescription drugs) than illegal drugs in the US

  • Medical mistakes continue to be roughly the 3rd leading cause of death in the US

It is thus no wonder that with such statistics, more and more people are turning to alternative healing methods, mainly natural health. Today we have many options when it comes to our health and healing, and it is thus important to know what those choices are.

Gone are the days that we put all our trust and care in someone else’s hands. Today people are learning quicker than ever that the number one way to best health is through personal responsibility and accountability.

So as the field of natural health grows and more and more people become interested in this area, this article will briefly explain and outline the major differences between conventional versus natural approaches to health and treatment. It is always important to remember that the more we know, the better prepared we are for anything that comes our way.

Conventional Health and Medicine

During the 20th century conventional medicine has advanced the most and increased in popularity almost simultaneously all over the world.

People who were oppressed and struck by various disease during the 1800′s, all of a sudden felt like a miraculous event had taken place on the Earth. The age of synthetic pharmaceuticals and invasive surgery procedures had come into full swing. However instead of deeply questioning and limiting this field, and trying to balance it out with naturally traditional ways, most in the world were taken in by its hypnotic trance.

Don’t get me wrong, it has in some ways helped to heal and save people’s lives, but more often than not it has lead to more damage than good in my opinion for the following 5 important reasons:

  1. It made people completely unaccountable for their actions – today people think they can eat, drink and do whatever they want and if something goes wrong there is always a pill or surgery.

  2. It has taken away many innocent lives unnecessarily – I am not even talking about the blatant medical mistakes, many times the cause of overinflated egos feeling that their way is the right way and that is it, but about the millions of people who lost their lives due to various complications and medical interactions that should not have been done.

For some detailed statistics, data and research regarding medical errors and pharmaceutical deaths from various sources, that may have not made it into popular media near you, check out Dr. Grisanti’s page.

  1. It has made numerous people suffer and accept it as normal – today most people are okay with being on an “X” amount of pills no matter what side-effects they experience. Worse off, we have become a culture of “complainers” – many people today almost live off of sharing stories of how many pills they are on and how many things are wrong with them, never once questioning modern medical practice and looking for an alternate way.

  2. It has rejected and turned people against natural and traditional healing modalities – techniques and natural herbs that were saving people’s lives for thousands of years, all of a sudden became “quackery” and unreliable forms of health and healing.

  3. It has given people a better quantity, but worse off quality of life - many people today think that we live the longest that humans have in history, well let’s think about that for a second. If we stopped doing all surgeries and took everyone out there off of all their pills, what do you think the average life expectancy would become? So I get to live to 80, 40 of those years that are usually spent on various pills, in at least one surgery, not to mention years of chemo or radiation therapy? There is no way that it is “fun” or in any way normal to wake up each morning and think of all the pills one has to take or to revolve one’s life around medical appointments.

Contrary to popular belief, many people think we have been “saved” and would have been “doomed” if it wasn’t for conventional medicine, but what most do not realize is that never have there been so many diseases as there are today or their numbers as staggering, of people suffering from them. If conventional medicine is so good, then why do we continue to get sicker? Despite all of its “amazing advances”, when asked about its success rate, most people respond that it has failed them when it comes especially to chronic conditions.

So to get to know conventional medicine a little more, it is also called allopathic medicine and it focuses on the elimination of physical symptoms. By doing this it completely emphasizes a “part” of the body, instead of the whole system, never mind tying in the mind or spirit connection.

It focuses on TREATMENT over PREVENTION and treatment consists of drugs and/or surgery.

Natural Health and Medicine

Thanks in part to a greater consciousness and awareness on our planet today and of course the amazing tool of the Internet, many more people today realize that they are much more in charge of their own health than humans perhaps ever were in the past.

Today we are extremely fortunate, especially in the Western world to have many choices on how we prevent and treat illness and ensure optimal health. Thus as you saw in the section above, as more and more people are turned off from the conventional and allopathic forms of medicine, more and more are turning to natural health and medicine in order to live out the healthiest and happiest lives possible.

Natural health refers to a state of “well-being”, that has been achieved by natural means. This means without the unnatural influence of things such as synthetic drugs, processed foods or any invasive body procedures.

Some people also refer to natural health today as complementary, alternative or holistic health. It is possible to hear it referred to as “traditional” health, but this is often confusing as some think that current medical practices are traditional, where as natural health is of course older than any conventional means and thus the true “traditional” health.

Even though many people in our society still may roll their eyes at the term “natural health”, what many of them don’t realize is that the healing modalities and areas of natural health have been around and trusted by cultures from all over the world for thousands of years successfully.

Natural health is most often coined with holistic health, as it addresses the whole person – this means the body, mind and spirit. This area of health focuses on this through all of the aspects of that person’s lifestyle, such as physical, environmental, emotional, mental, spiritual and social.

One of the greatest differences too between natural and conventional medicine is that it fosters a relationship between patient and practitioner. When you go to see a natural health care practitioner, you are not in the waiting room for hours and then seen by the doctor for a few minutes, barely having a chance to explain what your ailment is, never mind being asked deep and important questions as to the root cause of the problem. In this case the scenario is flipped and the practitioner takes time to talk to you and get to know all aspects of your lifestyle that may have lead to a dis-ease.

My favorite part of natural health is that it emphasizes PREVENTION over TREATMENT (cure) above all else. This is also the critical piece of the puzzle that so many human beings do not yet realize and that is how easy it is to prevent most if not all major and minor illnesses, which would lead to never needing treatment.

The basis for natural health is also that the body has a natural ability to protect and heal itself from sickness, given of course the right support. When we put into our bodies only the things they truly want and need, and nothing that can hurt them in any way, no matter how small – there is no way for a dis-ease of any kind to occur. This is yet another big hurdle for many in our society to come to understand and accept.

Above all else, natural health teaches the patient accountability – something many in our society who are suffering needlessly also have a hard time accepting. “What do you mean I gave myself this disease?” can often be heard from people when they are told this concept. Of course not once will they think back and link all the sodas, fast food, alcohol or cookies just to name some examples, as a direct result of their current health status.

Patient responsibility is the key in natural health and goes above and beyond any treatment of the disease. Once we acknowledge and understand how our actions lead to our circumstances, it is only then that we can begin our journey to optimal health naturally.

Integrative Medicine

For many people out there today, the choice is obvious when it comes to that of their health and their family’s and statistics are clearly showing this. Numbers continue to increase yearly of those who seek natural health care practitioners.

Of the group who seek natural health, Canadian surveys show that women were more prevalent to seek natural health over men, as well the subjects had higher education levels, as well as higher income brackets. Also people with chronic conditions were more likely to seek the help of a natural health care practitioner. Ultimately Statistics Canada predicts that the demand for alternative therapies is going to continue to rise.

In the US, surveys show that as many as 2/3rds of Americans are using some sort of alternative medical care, and money spent by people on some sort of alternative care continues to rise drastically each year.

So how about those who are not quite yet ready to take the step back home to natural health and medicine? There is yet another area of health called integrative medicine.

For those people who are not quite yet ready to abandon conventional medicine all together, and this includes most of the world today, there is the field of health and medicine that attempts to strike a perfect balance between conventional and natural health and medicine.

Like natural health, integrative medicine is healing-oriented, although its scientific principles and philosophy is rooted in conventional medicine.

Also, like natural health it focuses on a relationship between patient and practitioner and promotes an understanding of the body’s own healing systems. While doing this, it brings in the most effective elements of allopathic or conventional medicine.

Being immersed in integrative medicine includes the examination of the body-mind connection, nutritional medicine, physical activity and even the role of spirituality. It also takes into account plant-based medicines, body work, homeopathic medicine, energy work and ancient healing systems.

To sum up, integrative medicine believes in the importance of scientific evidence and proper studies, but at the same time respects the evidence of thousands of years of natural healing practices.

Many more practitioners today are moving towards integrative medicine and believe that this will be the future path of health and medicine.

It is thus for all these reasons and explanations that I feel we should get to know our options today when it comes to our health. It is just too important of a commodity to leave in someone else’s hands. Most importantly we need to know that we do have options and it is never too late to educate oneself on how to seek optimal health in the best possible way for each of us.

Education leads to knowledge – knowledge leads to understanding – understanding alleviates fear and leads to a happy and healthy life!