Western medical doctors, or allopaths as they are called, are really medical scientists for the most part. Since the 1940's technology has driven the practice of western medicine and a great many of the traditional skills of western doctors have been lost. At one time western doctors were taught 25 qualities of the pulse, a wide range of stethoscope, physical examination and interpersonal skills and many other valuable skills that have fallen by the wayside. Western medical science has produced many amazing advances especially in the treatment of trauma and today even major surgery is a relatively safe and routine occurrence. We can all be grateful for the successes of the modern medical model, but we should also be wary of accepting all of its conclusions about healthcare and the treatment of disease.
When you hear a medical doctor say that acupuncture medicine is experimental, unproven or unscientific, keep in mind that only 15% of standard medical procedures have ever been held to scientific scrutiny and only 1% of the articles in medical journals are based on verifiable scientific research, according to David Eddy, M.D.,Ph.D., the doctor who coined the term "evidence based" medicine.
This means that fully 85% of all medical interventions are unproven, which may help explain why well intentioned medical intervention is now recognized as a primary cause of preventable, premature death in this country. (1) A recent major study showed that certain cancer patients are 50 times more likely to recieve unnecessary and dangerous treatment than they are to be saved from a potentially fatal cancer. (3)
"The problem is that we don't know what we are doing," Dr. Eddy says of modern medicine in the cover story of the May 29, 2006 issue of Business Week Magazine. Dr. Eddy describes the nation's $2 trillion-a-year medical system as operating with little or no evidence to support the notion that widely used medical interventions and procedures work any better than less invasive, less expensive alternatives.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) admits that 75% of medical care today only treats the symptoms of chronic illness caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices. The medical industry knows this, the only solution offered is more drugs and more surgery.
The runaway costs of medical care have reached the point where they threaten the life of our entire economy. The majority of personal bankruptcies in this country are filed by people unable to pay their medical bills, even though three-fourths of these same people have medical insurance coverage!(2)
The reason acupuncture medicine is viewed in the west as simply a pain treatment is that westerner's are doing the viewing, and, unfortunately sometimes wielding the needles, as in the case of M.D.'s, chiropractors, or others who have completed a few weekends of training in where to put needles for certain symptoms. This is a disservice to the public on more than one level. Patients are always better served by specialists, in this case a Doctor of Oriental Medicine who is a health practitioner, whose lifestyle reflects an understanding of and commitment to holistic health and healing. Experience counts!
Ultimately the proper remedy is to get more people well and keep them from entering the costly and dangerous medical system to begin with. Doctors of Oriental Medicine, as well as competent doctors in other alternative fields, with their emphasis on prevention and wellness care, are the logical choice to lead knowledgeable patients into the next era of health care in which patients take control of their own health, fitness and wellness through mindful lifestyle choices.
(1) Richard Smith, British Medical Journal,October5, 1991
(2) David Himmelstein, "MarketWatch: Illness And Injury As Contributers to Bankruptcy," Health AffairsWeb Exclusives, February 2, 2005
(3) New England Journal of Medicine March 2009