Alternative Medicine: Is it Naturopathic Medicine or Allopathic Medicine That Has the Bragging Right?
“Naturopathic medicine has a long legacy based on science and discovery, treating the core of illness rather than the symptoms of disease.”
Those who practice natural medicine or those associated with the development of natural medicine have known for years how safe and effective it can be for treating disease conditions. We have heard time and time again from the pharmaceutical side that natural medicine lacks the science and clinical evidence, but science is at best speculative, and perhaps a deeper look is necessary to see what side is correct.
Science is based on evidence and especially evidence available at the moment; evidence to either support or counter a scientific theory or hypothesis. We must remember that for over a thousand years science believed that the earth was the center of all creation, with the Sun, planets, and stars all orbiting it. This concept reminds me of the pharmaceutical industry – how they feel they are the center of medicine. It is a good thing Nicolaus Copernicus came along to show that the planets orbited around the sun. Science is expected to be empirical in nature and interpretation and in accordance with a scientific method, and I would extrapolate that medicine can be established in the same manner based on history and traditional use in proving its worth.
Traditional medicine stems from the growers of the herbs or other forms of plant-based remedies to the designers and scientists who create the healing medicines. The medical establishment, until recently, believed that traditional naturopathic medicine was not based on science or clinical evidence. Let’s examine that argument and see if it holds water or not.
To better understand, we need to examine the roots of naturopathic medicine and see how it has blossomed over the centuries in order to decide what group is based on science and safe and effective treatments.
The Short History of Naturopathic Medicine:
- In 2000 BC: acupuncture was created as an alternative medicine in China.
- In 400 BC: in ancient Greece, Hippocrates established the bases that the body must be treated as a whole and not just a series of parts (referred as holistic medicine) and establishing the naturopathic foundation. In 420 BC Hippocrates establishes the Hippocratic Oath.
- In 1493–1541: Paracelsus declared that disease was due to toxins in food and drink and explains disease as a chemical process.
- In 1624–1689: Thomas Sydenham identifies the cause of disease—often lifestyle—and the natural healing ability of the body.
- In 1755-1843: Hahnemann the founder of homeopathy establishes energetic medicine and the principle that “a like cures a like”.
- In 1762-1836: Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland, founder of holistic medicine, uses vegetarian diets and herbal remedies to treat disease conditions.
- In 1821-1894: Father Sebatian Kneipp establishes holistic healthy lifestyle and the link between European nature cure and American naturopathy.
- In 1833: Dr. Constantine Hering immigrates to America and becomes known as the father of American Homeopathy.
- In 1835 – 1907: Louis Kuhne introduces the concept of “unit of disease” and disease due to excess foreign matter or food in the body. He also advocates vegetarian diet and raw food.
- In 1864: Louis Pasteur, a French microbiologist furthers the understanding of the germ theory.
- In 1865-1933: Franz Schönenberger becomes one of the first university professors for nature cure methods.
- In 1900: Benedict Lust opens the 1st naturopathic school in New York City, the American School of Naturopathy.
- In 1902-1944: Linus Pauling, a scientist who won two Nobel Prizes, focused on the healing power of Vitamin C.
- In 1912-1995: John Bastyr becomes the father of modern day naturopathic medicine. In 1978 a naturopathic school honoured in his name opens in Washington State.
- In 1949: The name Canadian Association of Naturopathic Physicians (CANP) is established.
- In 1956: The National University of Natural Medicine is established in Portland, Oregon.
- In 1978: The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine is established in Toronto, Ontario.
Naturopathic medicine has a long legacy based on science and discovery, treating the core of illness rather than the symptoms of disease. Treatment followed the causal chain of deterioration in order to treat the body as a whole (with glandular therapy, diet, and plant based remedies, homeopathic medicines and lifestyle changes) is applied to create an internal balance allowing the body to heal itself. The naturopathic principles follow what was established by Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine: the body must be treated as a whole and not just a series of parts.
The next time you hear that naturopathic medical treatment is not based on science, please point out that they have not examined its rich history. Whereas allopathic medicine was established to do the same (do no harm), yet properly prescribed medicine is the third leading cause of death through the influence of the pharmaceutical industry. Who has the bragging right now?
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References and Further Readings:
- CN Fokunang, V Ndikum, and Kamsu-Kom. Traditional Medicine: Past, Present and Future Research and Development Prospects and Integration in the National Health System of Cameroon. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252219/