Natural healing methods rediscovered by Western Medicine

Most Americans follow a similar health routine when they get sick. Go to the doctor to get a prescription. Go to the pharmacist to buy medicine. Take pills, and hopefully, get well. Western medicine is a vicious cycle of diagnosis and prescription.

What would happen if you decided to break the cycle? What if instead of a prescription you headed out to the garden for a cure? Herbs were the first medicinal cures discovered. Could they still be the answer to what ails us?

Scientists are reconsidering what they perceive as “medicine.” Research groups all over the world are conducting studies to see if there is any measurable benefit to “natural medicine.”

Natural medicine, also referred to as “alternative medicine,” is the use of natural methods, herbal medicines, and traditional practices to heal ailments. Every culture has a form of natural medicine. Medicine men, shamans, even “witch doctors” used herbs and plants to heal indigenous peoples. These were the doctors of their village or tribe, passing on medical knowledge without books or written word to apprentices who dedicated their life to learning the healing arts.

Many categories of healing methods fall under the heading of natural medicine including: traditional medicine, complementary medicine, and alternative medicine. But most often, natural medicine refers to medical practices that existed prior to what we consider the era of modern medicine. This includes natural healing techniques such as herbal medicine, or phytotherapy, which is prevalent in Chinese, Ayurvedic(or Indian), and Greek medicine.

During the twentieth century, with the arrival of modern medicine, health professionals began to discard the practice of using herbs in favor of “scientifically perfected” or man-made medicine. In an effort to harness science, the fact that lots of these treatments were originally based on the healing properties of herbs was forgotten.

Many of today’s popular medicines have their roots in traditional medicine. Opium, digitalis, quinine, and aspirin all expand upon the properties of plants that have been used for thousands of years.

Although natural medicine is to some extent a lost art, it is by no means a lost cause. In some cases, the gentle balance that can be achieved with natural therapy is far superior to modern medicine. It’s this re-discovery of ancient healing methods that has some doctors seriously considering the use of natural medicine.

It is important to understand that not all the natural remedies are legitimate. The next article in this series will look at the possible risks of herbal remedies and when it might be best to choose a modern approach.

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