Sunday, June 5, 2011

Medicine’s Great Divide — the Alternative

Dr. Deepak Chopra, MD (,

Medicine’s Great Divide — The View from the Alternative Side
The relationship between conventional and alternative medicine is wary at best. What is needed is expanded medicine, which encompasses the best that both kinds of medicine have to offer.

I might as well begin by being blunt. There is no love lost between the medicine I was taught in medical school and the kind I practice now, which used to travel under the name of "mind-body medicine."

It acquired Ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India) along the way and now incorporates influences from many other strains of healing. The relationship between conventional and alternative medicine is like a bad marriage, only in reverse: It began with a divorce, has moved to the stage of wary mediation, and holds some prospects of reaching a shy courtship some day in the future.

The grounds for the divorce are bitter. Conventional medicine is offended that alternative medicine even exists. For the average physician, to hear that an allergy patient is taking extract of the herb Nettle to treat his symptoms or that a breast cancer patient is being treated with coffee enemas and a macrobiotic diet arouses scorn.

Over a decade ago, when the New England Journal of Medicine reported that Americans pay more visits annually to alternative practitioners than to MDs [1], the attitude of the editorial writer was barely disguised dismay and disbelief. It was as if the whole country had turned its back on jet travel to return to the horse and buggy.

Yet at bottom no one could really object to the aims of alternative medicine, which are to bring relief to the whole patient. Sick people come to us in hopes that their suffering will end. More

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