It's interesting that the original writeup in this node proposes that Traditional Chinese Medicine, because it prescribes arsenic is somehow more dangerous than western medicine.

If traditional medicine is so 'safe' then why do we need to keep medications out of reach of children? Why are there 120,000 deaths in the USA alone each year resulting from the correct use of prescription medication? What about the side effects of chemotherapy? Just about every potent drug has an unpleasant side effect which is quite often worse than the symptom it treats.

Now I don't propose to tell you that waving a crystal or swallowing herbs is going to do good, either. As I see it, alternative medicines either operate from one of the following hypotheses:

  • Most, if not all, of the germs found in the body are there because the conditions in the body create an environment where they will flourish. Germs do not "attack" people. Not all people infected with various bugs develop the corresponding diseases. For example it is possible to be infected with malarial parasites and never develop malaria.
  • The state of health of an individual can be directly related to the state of mind of that individual. Stress is a major contributing factor to ill health, however the mind directs the body, and given enough certainty the body will follow suit. This quite aptly explains the placebo effect.

The body's needs are simple. You cannot poison your body back to health. Indeed the more drugs you take, the more you will eventually need to take to counter their side effects, and so on. A vicious cycle.

What happens if you continue to ignore pain or discomfort, or try to drown it out by taking painkillers or anti-inflammatories? The problem doesn't go away, and in many cases more severe problems develop as the body's other systems break down as well. The approach of western medicine seems to be to silence the symptoms (with drugs or surgery) without treating the causes. Alternative medicine takes the approach of looking at what the cause might be from a different perspective.

Most people have at best sketchy knowledge of how the human body works which is quite surprising considering you spend all of your life using one. Unfortunately, when it comes to our health most people take the advice of doctors and drug companies instead of trusting that decision to themselves.

Personally I believe that each approach has something valid to offer. Western medicine has made amazing progress with live organ transplants and other surgical procedures. Eastern and some (not all) other 'alternative' medicines can offer better explanations of why such procedures might have been neccesary in the first place, and how they might have been avoided.