How do you feel about “alternative medicine”? Do you have confidence in treatments that have little or no research to support them, or do you believe it is a mistake to try healing methods that are not supported by traditional medical authorities? Polls of the American public have shown that there is a steady increase in the percentage of people trying non-traditional therapies in this country. In fact, the percentage using alternative practitioners is fast approaching that of the standard medical sources of care.
You might ask why a physician like myself, with a very conservative medical background, even bothers talking about methods that seem to lack much scientific support. This is a fair question. My training is definitely mainstream. The medical school where I trained, the University of Pennsylvania, is recognized as a very solid, scientifically oriented institution of medicine. In my training, I remember absorbing everything I was taught as if it were gospel. (Truthfully, though, I don’t think you could successfully complete your medical training if you didn’t.) So my background and training are completely traditional.
I do not doubt much of what I have learned. And I do not just believe it to be true, I know it is accurate and effective. I see the results confirmed every day. Much of modern medicine is highly effective. The key word in this phrase is “much.” Obviously, if standard medical care was the only effective game in town, it would be a waste of time for me to be talking about alternatives. In addition, your time in reading about medical topics would be better spent reading what the best teachers in our medical schools write rather than the articles in this blog. But there is much of value to learn that does not fit well into the accepted medical curriculum.
In my bio and my articles about acupressure and EFT, I have described some of the experiences that have caused me to re-assess my treatment techniques in my exam rooms. I will provide a very brief summary here. When I heard stories from Kosovo about the dramatic responses of war atrocity victims to therapies based on the Chinese acupuncture meridians, I began to carefully and thoroughly investigate them. I did an extensive evaluation of the research concerning the Chinese acupuncture system itself. I found that much the research evaluating acupuncture is of very good scientific quality and clearly demonstrates that these treatments are often as effective as many that we routinely use in traditional medical care. I also explored the reports that acupuncture points on the human body are spots that have much lower electrical resistance than surrounding human skin. I found that using readily available sensitive voltmeters, you can map out these points yourself on your own body quite easily. Finally, after learning EFT and using simplified approaches based on it in my office, I have accumulated a lot of experience that is absolutely conclusive that these techniques can be wonderfully effective. Sometimes they can even be very effective when all standard treatments have failed.
I hope I have made it clear that just like I know that much of what I learned about in medical school is very effective, I also know beyond any doubt that these non-traditional methods can be quite effective. Sometimes the results are literally incredible. Their success is a problem, though. According to traditional medical theory, these methods should not work. There is very little within the modern medical viewpoint to even begin to explain what I am routinely seeing in my office using these unusual techniques.
Resolving this conceptual conflict is not just a matter of integrating non-traditional methods into our routine care. What the successes of these techniques are telling us is that our theories about how the human body becomes ill and how it heals needs to be fundamentally revised. Exactly how to revise it is not at all clear, but the effort promises to greatly advance our understanding of illness and healing. Much needs to be done if we are to take advantage of these new insights. We need a lot of research to weed out the ineffective novel treatments form the ones that provide reliable benefit. Those that are effective should also be thoroughly explored to determine the mechanisms by which they bring about their benefits. Some have no known mechanism of action, yet they still work!
This is how things look from my perspective. What about yours? Have I given you enough explanation to be convincing? (I have quite a lot more data to provide if it is needed.) Or should I concentrate my efforts, instead, on what to do with these insights so more people can learn about them and we can spread the word more effectively?
What do you think? I promise to honor all viewpoints, always.
Please know that I greatly appreciate your consideration of what I offer here.