Currently, there are a number of competing theories as to the best approach in achieving overall health and wellness. As a result, being educated on the subject of Western medicine is important.
When someone speaks about Western medicine, he may also use the term “traditional medicine.” These terms will be used interchangeably throughout this article. In developing an understanding of Western medicine, the following questions must be addressed:
1. What is Western medicine not?
2. How did Western medicine come about?
3. What is Western medicine?
What is Western medicine not?
As you seek to understand the topic of Western medicine, it will be important for you to understand the difference between Western medicine and complementary or alternative forms of medicine (CAM).
Complementary forms of medicine might include but are not limited to, practices such as massage therapy and aromatherapy. Alternative forms of medicine consist of various forms of “medical” practices such as chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, Eastern medicine, etc.
Times will arise when doctors seek to combine complementary or alternative (CAM) forms of medicine with traditional forms of medicine. This is known as an integrative approach to medicine. However, due to the integrated style, this practice is not wholly traditional.
The term “Western medicine” is ultimately a term to distinguish this medical-style from the “Eastern medicine” or Chinese-style approach.
How did Western medicine come about?
This brings us to a focus on Western medicine. It is difficult to say exactly how Western medicine was founded. It may not have a single source. It is most likely something that came about through various people and their combined practices and research.
However, there is a man whose name is at the forefront when the topic is discussed. Hippocrates of Kos was a man who was adamant about the field of medicine being its own unique field of study.
Over time, this belief of Hippocrates of Kos was adopted by a number of individuals. It then began to develop into what we know today as Western medicine.
What is Western medicine?
Western medicine is the distinct approach to medicine that is said to be based on observable and tested results. It is a clinical method/approach to medical practices.
Within this field of study and practice, you will find doctors, nurses, therapists, and pharmacists. In America, the traditional method of healthcare is the most widely sought-after method, and for a good reason.
With technology steadily increasing, so does the field of traditional medicine – and the success rates found within. Over the past six decades, cancer deaths are said to have decreased by over 15% – thanks to Western medicine.
While HIV/AIDS has been increasing among the American population, traditional medicines have been keeping deaths from this devastating disease at bay. A cumulative percentage over the last 60 years shows that there has been a 75% death reduction.
In the same length of time, death occurrences from heart disease have also been reduced through the practices of Western medicine by 60%.
Traditional medicine has a special and unique approach to fighting against disease and illnesses. However, within this field, there are other evidence-based approaches to health and wellness that are found, such as surgery, counseling, and lifestyle changes.
Therefore, within this field of study, various goals are set, and progress toward the following is deemed as western medicine:
• Finding a cure to a disease
• Finding a way to relieve symptoms of sickness
• Helping people to live in certain ways (lifestyle changes) to avoid problems in the future
• Preventing the spread of various diseases
• Finding a way to stop the progression of the disease
• Diagnosing a patient
Traditional medicine is a clinical model, which means that the practices found within have been tested and researched. For instance, if a new drug is thought to be good to fight heart disease, you will not be the first one to try it out.
Prior to your taking medicine, tests will already have taken place with real people in controlled environments. These people will be monitored over a set course of time. Symptoms and side effects will be recorded, as will the value of taking the drug.
The various forms of counseling, although they are continuing to be developed, have been practiced in controlled settings as well. Whether someone prescribes a behavioral approach, cognitive approach, or something different, clinical studies have been made in attempts to fine-tune this field of practice to bring about greater success.
Many people find that Western medicine is the most reliable source of treatment for the different medical problems that arise. Many of the forms of help found within are also backed by various health insurance plans.
The evidence-based approach is the hallmark of Western medicine, and it will continue to provide assurance for years to come.