Journey to wellness: Differences between age-old medical systems
By Josiah Groth
There are many healing systems used throughout the world. Medicine as we typically know it here in the west is called allopathic medicine. It has its own assumptions, theories, and modes of practice, but it is not the only system of medicine out there. It is good to know that medicine is a universal human need and that we have created many different systems and theories to restore health and wellness.
Medical systems tend to develop within cultural frameworks. Every tribe and culture throughout history had its own wise women, shamans, and the like. Today three of the most widely practiced medical systems are from three great cultures: Ayurveda from India, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and allopathic medicine from the West. Even within our western culture, we have sprouted homeopathic medicine, naturopathic medicine, chiropractic medicine, and several others.
All of these types of medicine stand apart from each other in some of their major premises. Ayurveda and TCM both believe that disease is a result of imbalances within the individual. They have very different language and practices, but they share the assumption that health can be restored by bringing the body back into balance energetically. Allopathic medicine uses germ theory, genetic theory, and deficiency theories to halt disease and its symptoms.
Let us take insomnia for example. One of homeopathy’s primary theories states that “like energy cures a like symptom,” so a homeopathic cure for insomnia where one’s mind “just will not shut off” would be a very dilute dose of something that stimulates the mind like coffee.
This is very different from a chiropractic theory of spinal alignment, which would work to adjust subluxations in the spine in order to calm the nervous system and reduce insomnia. TCM might look to balance gall bladder or spleen meridians with acupuncture using meridian theory.
While I cannot define all the differences here, we can get a sense that there are very real and substantial differences between medical systems. Those differences can result in very different prescriptions for the same health problem.
Many times I have seen someone switch systems, from allopathic to alternative or vice versa, to great personal benefit. The new doctor’s foundational assumptions created a different framework of medicine, diagnosis, and prescriptions for a cure.
Caution: We often get into the “Ford versus Chevy” argument in regards to medical systems. While we may be firmly entrenched in our own beliefs, we must recognize that all of these different viewpoints on health and disease are being used in the real world. They have all been around for hundreds if not thousands of years.
Josiah Groth is the owner of Back to Bliss Wellness. More information on his practice is available at backtoblisswellness.com.