Alternative medicine is actually one of the oldest forms of health care,
dating back centuries and in some cases millennia. Health care has
traditionally focused on the health of the mind and the body, and the
interaction of the two elements. As the nineteenth century waned,
however, many traditional approaches to disease prevention and cures
were discarded in favor of new theories of disease and treatment.
The turning point came in with the introduction of germ theory, and
the discovery that microbes called germs were responsible for disease.
There were two competing theories of how germs like bacteria, viruses
and fungi caused disease. The first theory was that these microbes
were universally infectious, and it was this theory that eventually won
out and become the basis of modern western medicine.
The other theory, rooted in a long history of alternative medicine, held
that while bacteria, viruses and fungi were infectious, they could only
cause illness if the body were in a weakened state. Adherents to this
theory felt that by keeping the body in top condition, disease could be
avoided even in the presence of infectious agents.
The adoption of the germ theory, and the birth of modern medicine,
has led to some amazing advances, and some cures for devastating
diseases. However, it has also led to a marginalizing of the
importance of alternative and naturalistic approaches to health care.
The best approach to health care is one that combines the best of both
worlds. Combining the wonders of modern medicine with a traditional
approach to health care is the best way to prevent disease and treat it
when it occurs. That is where alternative medicine can play such an
Good health means much more than the mere absence of disease. A
healthy body means that all the various systems and functions of the
body are balanced and in harmony with each other. A body in
balance, with a strong immune system, is able to fight off diseases
that would overwhelm a person in a weaker state.
Alternative medicine holds that good health relies on three important
factors, and that all three factors are connected to one another. The
first factor to be considered is the structural system of the body. This
structural system includes all of the body’s muscles, bones, ligaments,
blood vessels, nerves and organs.
The second factor of good health is the biochemical process of the
body, which includes the absorption and use of nutrients in the foods
we eat. These functions are the keys to cellular function and good
The third factor includes the mind and the emotions, and also
encompasses the spiritual dimensions of each individual. When energy
is balanced between these three important factors, there is good
The importance of homeostasis
In a state of good health, wounds are healed by the body. If we cut
ourselves, our blood clots, a scab forms and the skin closes up. If we
bruise ourselves, strain a muscle or break a bone, the healing begins
at once. In addition, those in good health are able to deal with
infections through the reaction of a healthy immune system.
The preceding are but a few illustrations of the body’s awesome ability
to repair itself and fight off disease and infection. This tendency of the
body to heal itself is known as homeostasis, or the maintenance of the
internal organs and defenses of the body to compensate for health
hazards coming from the outside.
When homeostasis comes into play to deal with a crisis, this activity is
often described as symptoms. For instance, when the body is exposed
to an infection, the immune system raises an aggressive response to
ward off the infection, and this can often result in a fever. Likewise,
when we injure ourselves, the healing process may cause inflammation
of the injured area. Put simply, these reactions are the body’s
attempts to heal itself.
Unfortunately, many people, instead of allowing the body to heal itself,
try to suppress these reactions, whether they manifest themselves as
inflammation, high body temperature or other symptoms. This
fighting against the natural homeostasis of the body can result in
greater harm, and mean a longer time to healing.
Alternative medicine takes the approach that the body should be
allowed to do what it does best, and that is to heal itself. Using this
natural approach to health care is a great way to speed healing and
minimize costly and invasive procedures.
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