Comparing Natural and Conventional MedicineWe see a lot of comparison examples of Natural (also called Alternative, Complimentary, or Traditional)  and Conventional ( also referred as Allopathic or Western) Medicine, but this table seemed to cover a lot of the bases and sum up the differences, reasonably well.

Of course, it does over-simplify some things, and it overlooks a few other important issues, but in general, it is a pretty good assessment.

It has been interesting to see, in the time since we began Applied Health (way back in 1997), a substantial shift in the focus of the so-called conventional practitioner to place more emphasis on an “Integrative” approach to medicine; the combining of conventional and natural care.

One of the most obvious exclusions from the list below has to do with conditions involving trauma… If I get hit by a bus, I will vote to have a trauma team waiting for me in ER, instead of an herbalist, aroma therapist and acupuncture practitioner, any day.  I can think of other examples where there really is no comparison to be offered, which is probably why it is not in the table.

Nevertheless, the rest of the listed comparisons are great reminders about the perspective of focus from each discipline.

Source: “Natures Cures”, Michael Castleman, Rodale Press, 1996

Conventional Medicine Natural Medicine
Emphasizes diagnosis and treatment Emphasizes disease prevention
Views the mind and body as separate, with little effect on each other. Views the mind and body as one, the “bodymind”. Anything that affects one affects the other.
Views the body as essentially a machine, with disease resulting when parts break. Views the body as a living microcosm of the universe, with disease resulting when the forces that act on it become unbalanced.
Views medicine as a military campaign. Seeks better “weapons” to combat “disease”. Views medicine as an effort to restore mind and body harmony.
Views the body as the passive recipient of treatments that “fix” it. Views the body as capable of self repair and administers treatments to support self healing.
Patients obey doctors’ orders. Individuals take an active role in their healing.
Primary treatments include pharmaceuticals, surgery, and radiation. Primary treatments include diet, exercise, stress management, social support, and herbal medicines. (Missing from this list is the essential role of normalizing the functions of the nervous and meridian systems through chiropractic, applied kinesiology, and acupuncture.)
Focuses on disease. Focuses on illness, the human experience of the disease.
Focuses on pain. Focuses on suffering, the human experience of pain.
Goal is cure Goal is healing, the individual’s experience of physical, mental, and spiritual wholeness.