For the vast majority of our time as a nation, we have stumbled through a new approach to medical sciences that was vastly unfamiliar to the rest of the world. On the whole, we’ve simply got a different way of doing things here. Whether this approach was from a deep-seeded distrust of our origins in the greater England area, or from a radical approach that had moderate success and was engrained in our societal values, our medical practices have changed the way the world works.
As it is, there is a general grouping of “Eastern” versus “Western” medical practices, because why wouldn’t we be ‘us against the world’? Even with “Eastern” practices, there are thousands of cultural, regional, and religious variances, but they are all generally aimed at one thing: treating the body as a whole and lifelong PREVENTATIVE care. Western medicine is comprised of a generally opposite ethos as we try to reverse what’s already happened through hard chemical and physical changes we force the body to adhere to. Instead of offering preventative measures and working with the body as it changes to allow a more natural and gentle approach to ‘health’, we seem to focus solely on the principle that everything is perfect until it isn’t.
Within the last 30 or so years, globalization has greatly impacted our local knowledge of global ideals. Nearly every aspect of our lives have changed radically over the last 3 decades: what we eat, when we eat, what we do for leisure, what we do for work, how much extra input we have, what options we have for treatments, and the list goes on. So what is the difference in our attitudes now about healthcare versus 30 years ago? The amount of positive input from alternative and holistic approaches has been viewed as increasing, and simultaneously the amount of negative input from ‘traditional Western’ medications have exponentially multiplied. It’s rightly obvious so many people are curious about approaches whose efficacy have been documented for thousands of years, and leery about lowly-regulated and inferiorly tested ‘medicine’ products that have been produced & tested in less than a decade, while having a contraindicated list that takes ¾ of their advertisement length to explain.
A great eye opener is to watch three 30-second commercials for yoga versus three 30-second commercials for an average pill in America. The contraindications (read: don’t-do-this-if) list alone are enough to convince anyone. To see the practice in use, however, there is a real discrepancy in the reality of post-yoga versus post-pill.
There’s no question our health system is in disarray. There’s no question the American people deserve better, more reliable, affordable, and accessible healthcare options. There’s also no question that the healthcare insurances we’re currently *mandated* to have are fully non-inclusive, to say the least, with regards to proven alternative medicines, and all but non-existent with regards to a myriad of other alternative approaches. So with the American public paying more than ever for health insurance to receive care that they can’t even use the insurance on (massage, acupuncture, yoga/meditation, reiki, et cetera), it becomes a question of where to invest the money.
For me, looking at the efficacy versus cost really sums up the reason I think so many people are willing to pay out of pocket expenses for medical approaches not covered by their insurance. I am currently outfitted with a health insurance plan that (if not for tax credits via income restrictions) would cost me $1000/month for my wife and myself. With that $12,000 a year, I’m also required to pay 20% of the cost of any medical services or any medications I receive. Emergency room visits? Extra. Dental? Vision? Nope, none of that. Let’s not forget about the $14,000 per year we would have to pay out-of-pocket to reach our total-coverage point, meaning we could actually get our insurance to pay for our health care (at least for the rest of that year). All in all, just my wife and I are looking at literally $12,000/year just to HAVE insurance (not actually using it on anything, or including the costs of the services I get), and over $26,000/year if we want to have insurance pay for anything. We, as a people, are being told that literally 50% of our income has to be spent on healthcare. Where does that leave options for growth or advancement of society? Where does that leave our savings accounts when we become unable to work for the huge overhead costs included with this system?
A dose of reality is needed for most people at this point. Is an alternative care such as yoga going to cure cancer? Will it heal a broken bone? Can it suppress measles, mumps, rubella, or the like? No. Therefore, is there a place for ‘traditional Western’ medicine in our society? Absolutely, with no question. There is no reason that these two practices or ideologies cannot exist in tandem, and in fact, they should each be practiced in moderation… Just don’t tell your doctor that tried-and-true principle (yin-and-yang) is rooted in Eastern Medicines.