There’s been an ongoing debate for the past decades regarding what type of medicine is the best. Although some people are a bit more inclined towards the traditional forms of medicine, modern medicine has been the primary form of treatment for the past 3 to 4 centuries.
Let’s start by differentiating the two. When I refer to “traditional medicine”, I mean practices such as acupuncture, acupressure, herbology and homeopathy. Most forms of traditional medicine have been around for at least 2,200 years or longer. Some of the earliest writings, which happen to be from China, are thought to be from as far back as the 3rd century BC. These practices are often referred to as “alternative” medicine.
Modern medicine, or what’s often referred to as western medicine, started to emerge in the 19th century. The industrial revolution helped to spearhead a number of discoveries and inventions that led to the progression and advancement of how ailments were treated. The medical industry’s understanding of viruses and bacteria increased. One of the most important discoveries in my opinion, is the creation of insulin by Sir Frederick Banting (a Canadian, of course!) and Charles Best in 1921.
So, which is better? That part is what’s up for debate.
Some of the benefits of traditional medicine include, but are not limited to the safety behind some of the treatments, minimal side effects and improved quality of sleep and effect on the body. It can be viewed as more trustworthy, since it’s been around and practiced for so very long.
Some of the disadvantages of traditional medicine is the lack of dosage control for some herbs and lack of treatment for serious conditions such as traumatic injuries and serious diseases. One of the most common problems is also the fact that some herbs and natural remedies will interact negatively with modern medications.
Modern medicine has a number of very important advantages as well. For one thing, most branches of modern medicine require its practitioners to be properly educated and licensed to practice. The same can’t necessarily be said of all branches of traditional medicine. Dosage control and advancements are certainly more prominent in modern medicine.
The biggest disadvantage to modern medicine in my opinion, is the cost. If you don’t have medical insurance or coverage through your work, some of the better and more prominent medicines may not be available to you. And that’s taking into consideration that I’m Canadian and we have free public health care. I can only imagine the issue in countries that requires fully paid medical services. Improper diagnoses and mistakes in dosage delivery can lead to patient death or serious medical complications.
I think that something most firm advocates of traditional medicine tend to forget is that medications have evolved, and are based on herbs and traditional treatments. Medicine requires advancement. Imagine if we were still blood-letting or doing lobotomies? Go ahead and Google “Barbaric medical treatments”. Go ahead, I’ll wait… Some of that is pretty frightening.
If it weren’t for modern medicine, I’d be dead right now. No question, no debate. Without insulin, I wouldn’t have survived as long as I have. Does that mean traditional medicine is the loser of the debate? Not necessarily. I think there is a place in the world for both traditional and modern medicine. Both have pros and cons, and both have their benefit. Some of it may be a matter of preference. No matter what you choose, just be certain to do your research and consult your medical practitioner before starting any medical treatment. ☯