Mainstream conventional or Western medicine is the politically dominant form of health care in developed nations. The central world view assumption about nature in Western medicine is that the person is a physical entity in which some external cause produces an effect (disease manifestations).
Conventional Treatment vs. Alternative Medicine
Conventional treatment consists of doing something at the local physical level to block the cause from acting on the body. Disease is considered a foreign enemy attacking the body in a particular place. Conventional physicians rely on pharmaceutical drugs as their main tool. The focus of conventional medicine is looking for a single cause to produce a single effect.
However, it also is possible to use nutritional supplements and herbs or botanical supplements as though they were drugs. Many health care providers and patients can hang onto their world view that nature is just a physical place in which disease is an external enemy – and they simply substitute natural products for drugs.
The natural products may — or may not — be safer than the drugs, as supplements are also much less regulated and standardized. It is less certain what you are actually taking. With thoughtful research, however, you can find safe and effective supplements. How you use them is another matter.
CAM Healing Systems
Many CAM (Complimentary and Alternative Medicine) healing systems see chronic disease as a deeper problem with multiple causes that all possible “right living” may not prevent. A host of interactive factors may still enable the expression of disease. Inherited disease vulnerabilities (e.g., through genetics), unintentional dietary errors, environmental toxins, negative social settings with perceived daily hassles and stressful major life events (negative traumas or even major positive changes) can foster development of disease.
The spiritual challenges that you face in life and any impaired resilience in throwing off their effects to bounce back may play out in the specifics of these factors and lead to development of disease.
The CAM Whole-System-Oriented View
Many CAM therapies, even ones that are not derived from the Eastern cultures, have a different way of conceptualizing the world of nature and of healing. These therapies intervene to allow the network system to heal itself from within and thereby work better overall. Whole systems-oriented care is focused on healing the person from the inside out. The complexity of living systems makes it hard or impossible to find a simple single cause for events in the system.
There are levels into which health care options fall. Each has its own implicit assumptions, world view philosophies, and science behind it. Unfortunately, it is possible to use many of the CAM health care options in a conventional local way, that is, to force the body parts to stop manifesting disease.
For example, one Western way to use guided imagery tells one cell to attack and kill another cell within the person. A more systems-based way to use guided imagery or various forms of art expression asks the body part to dialogue with the whole person, tell the person what the larger message of the symptom or the disease is, and advise the best way to resolve the imbalance or problem for highest good of the person as a whole.
People who have used biofeedback can tell you that trying to make a body part behave in a certain way does not work. Trying to make something happen rather than let something happen causes stress in your mind and your body, and you cannot achieve the goal.
You have to allow the biofeedback from the body part teach you when you are passing through the desired state of being – then the equipment lets you know whenever you have achieved it. You can allow, but not force, the desired state to occur more often and more reliably.