Gray’s River- How Allopathic and ‘Alternative’ Medicines Work Together Part 1

Healthcare for the most part is presented to us through the media as an us or them proposition. So called ‘Alternative Medicine’, although gaining foot hold in the ‘Western community is marginalized as not true science while allopathic medicine is considered cold and wreak-less when applying it’s life altering methods.

I propose that both allopathic and alternative as well as psychotherapy and spiritual belief systems as all part of the same spectrum of healthcare.

Imagine a river where one end ends in enormous misty depths over a water fall. At the other end there is a underground spring that gently and continuously flows downward. It’s beginning is also unknowable. As the water flows to it’s terminus at the waterfall it changes characteristics from gentle and calm to faster moving to rougher water then rapids with rocks. All the time traveling in the direction to that inevitable drop off.

I propose that the fountain head can be likened to our birth. Water free of sediments heading with little comprehension where gravity takes it. Further down the mountain the stream picks up speed and direction. We are like this part of the river, influenced by the belief system with learn from our family, our temple or church and by society as a whole.

Our belief systems will govern what meaning our limbic system will place on incoming stimuli and in turn what actions to take regarding such stimuli. Think ‘glass half full, half empty’ thinking, based on personal perspective. This is where psychotherapy would be appropriate to assist in rewriting our belief system code to enjoy a better life.

Further beyond this point down the river becomes faster moving. This is where you may not be feeling your best, however there are no measurable test results to be found. This would be the area where dietary changes, reiki or shamanic healing could make the most positive impact.

Just down from there acupuncturists, massage therapy, and chiropractic in that order could be found. Acupuncturists and massage therapist hold an interesting position in this example as being a modality that that crosses the physical with the spiritual within their scope of practices. Physical therapist share their position on the river with chiropractors. Both modalities treat the now visible and measurable pathologies within the body at this point on the river.

In the next session, the rapids, we would find the vast range of allopathic medical practitioners. At this point on the river measurable symptoms have been well documented and medical intervention is now the appropriate step to take to resolve that broken arm or that suspicious skin eruption. Afore mentioned modalities would be contraindicated at this stage until the patient is cleared by their medical doctor.

Finally stationed at the boulders of the river’s end-the waterfall we would find the surgical specialists. These men and women have a dizzying array of powerful medical tools and techniques to offer that last minute intervention before some poor soul heads off over the edge and into oblivion. Not always successful they have little time for ‘feel good’ therapies based on un-exact science. If precession is compromised here lives could be lost.

It has been my experience that just about every physical pathology I’ve encountered over the last 19 years as a massage therapist has an emotional component to it. Not just the fear, anger or sadness that is common with those who are suffering from symptoms, but emotional pain or dysfunction that has been long harbored by the individual prior to any of the patience previously.

Now the question become not which kind of treatment is needed, but where on that spectrum does one find the most appropriate care they need at that time.