Ideally, traditional medicine represents the culture and ancient-bound forms of medical practices that existed in typical human societies long before modern science found its way into health. Traditional medicine practice widely varies depending on the cultural and societal heritage of different nations.
Virtually all human communities effectively respond to both the difficulty of treating diseases and maintaining health by establishing a distinct medical system. As such, traditional medicine has subsequently been practiced in virtually every culture.
Once modern medicine made its way into the nations, the formal medical system usually rejected traditional medicine. Lately, though, there has been a significant shift of attitude towards traditional medicine. Now traditional medicine is finding full application in multiple regions and is practiced alongside modern medicine.
Numerous traditional therapies and remedies have ideally transcended their initial culture and become ”alternative/complementary” medicine in various countries.
As for modern medicine, it developed rather quickly and has expertly made a significant contribution to the control of diseases over the years. Interestingly, in spite of considerable growth in techniques and knowledge in this field, the last decade has seen a massive increase in demand for traditional medicine.
The surge in demand for its application has resulted in substantial interest among various medical doctors, health administrators, and policymakers on the potential of bringing modern and traditional medicine together.
So what are all these types of Healthcare all about? Can they be collectively used? What advantages and disadvantages do they have, and how do they relate to each other? To get a better understanding, here is everything you need to know.
DEFINING MODERN, TRADITIONAL, AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE:
Typically, non-allopathic care encompasses all healthcare services intended to boost health but are not categorized within the allopathic medicine scope, such as ”alternative medicine”. They are commonly known by the generic term Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines (TCAM)
What is Modern Medicine?
Modern medicine is usually practiced in virtually all developed countries, and it assumes that every pathological and physiological phenomenon is definable in real terms.
Conventional medicine tools include statistical analysis, non-human model systems, and blind studies to guarantee reproducible results.
This type of healthcare is usually practiced by a professional medical doctor (MD) or by a doctor of osteopathy (DO). Moreover, it is generally practiced by the qualified healthcare team also that includes psychologists, physical therapists, registered nurses, and physician assistants.
- Rapid advancement: It is advancing at an astonishing pace
- Efficiency: the new medications continually released have decreased the total death rated from various severe conditions like heart disease, cancer, and stroke. According to statistics, since 1970, modern medicine has reduced heart disease-related death rates by 60%
- Overdependence: The numerous options available mean that we can always find a pill for virtually anything
- According to critics, the fast progression of modern medicine is creating a scenario where we are more about treating diseases rather than preventing them
- Expensive: depending on the prescriptions and procedures
Traditional medicine existed long before the inception of modern medicine, and its practice differs from the distinct cultural and societal heritage of various nations.
An experienced traditional medicine practitioner practices traditional medicine. This is an individual whom his native community recognizes as competent to offer healthcare services.
They normally use mineral, animal, and plant material as well as other distinct methods based on cultural, religious, and social practices. These individuals usually include herbalists, traditional healers, and birth-attendants, as well as bone-setters.
- Despite being around for centuries, it remains an effective way of treating and preventing diseases.
- It makes use of naturally-occurring herbs and herbal medicine such as garlic.
- They are not regulated and can be unsafe for particular individuals
- The remedies are untested and can cause serious harm
Alternative/ Complementary Medicine
For instance, if your doctor has prescribed medication for your blood pressure, you can opt to make changes in your diet in efforts to reduce the blood pressure.
Examples of alternative medicine include:
- Prayer and Spiritual healing
- Herbal Medicines
- An excellent option for individuals looking for a more “natural” solution
- Lack of scientific evidence that guarantees the effectiveness of various practices.
- “Natural” is not always a guarantee of safety. A herb called kava kava is commonly used in treating anxiety, although it may also result in liver cancer.
The right approach before using alternative treatment would be to discuss it with your doctor to avoid severe side effects or allergies.
TRADITIONAL, COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE (TCAM)
Usually, the terms’ terms’ alternative” and ”complimentary” (CAM) medicine are utilized interchangeably with typical ”traditional medicine”. Nonetheless, Cam is considered as less definite to specific regions or ethnicities, with the term more broadly utilized in high-income nations.
Contrastingly, traditional medicine is usually regarded as more indigenous to specific regions, and this term is more widely used in middle and low-income nations. In essence, TCAM is mostly widespread in nations that represent over half of the total global population.
The subsequent reporting of TCAM typically does not breach the regulatory and legislative control usually advocated in nations where allopathic medicine is prevalent. TCAM is, however, fundamentally difficult to monitor primarily due to its connection with informal markets, particularly in middle and low-income countries.
As such, to ensure adequate data comparability between nations, a practical approach centered on efficient institutional neutrality is required in tracking TCAM.
New TCAM practices are gradually emerging, and therefore, the disparities in the provisions of TCAM between nations, thus, further complicate active tracking of substantially comparable data. However, the most prevalent types of TCAM are as follows:
- Complementary therapies like aromatherapy, Bach and Alexander therapy, body therapy, herbal medicine, Ayurvedic, spa and yoga therapy, nutritional therapy, and naturopathy.
- Alternative health systems: the most dispersed systems are homeopathy, acupuncture, osteopathy, and chiropractic.
- Esoteric and spiritual practices
- Alternative disciplines like iridology, crystal therapy, radionics, and kinesiology
INTEGRATING THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF HEALTHCARE
These variances bring various approaches to diseases and health. Nonetheless, both systems effectively deal with a similar subject-human. As such, it is only prudent that these two healing practices so-exist.
Traditional and modern medicine integration can have three varied meanings. First, this might mean incorporating traditional medicine practice into the mainstream healthcare system. In essence, the government acknowledges traditional medicine practice and also incorporate traditional medicine use into the standard healthcare system.
The second is that it might also mean the incorporation of traditional medicine practice with the practice of modern medicine. Numerous doctors with sufficient knowledge of tropical medicine have attempted to integrate traditional medicine remedies into their usual works.
In fact, there are multiple places where both modern and traditional medicine systems are practiced alongside each other. Several pieces of research have also confirmed that numerous patients use modern and traditional medicine.
Lastly, the statement might also mean the incorporation of modern and traditional medicine as branches of mainstream medical science. Even though both these systems have developed in varied cultural contexts and that they are both in varying scientific development stages, they nonetheless have numerous similarities.
Benefits of Approaching Healthcare from Multiple Disciplines-Integration
Integrating modern and traditional medicine will emphasize the significance of considerate co-existence. Within the integration model, there is a condition to establish and hold a harmonious understanding of the subsequent approaches to mainstream healthcare.
Essentially, modern medicine researchers and practitioners need to achieve sufficient awareness and education of the named practice, context, and principles of traditional medicine.
Likewise, traditional practitioners must be radically more aware of both the strengths and nature of modern medical systems. Ideally, the objective of this comprehensive education base is promoting a better understanding of either practice. It is also to develop top-notch care for patients through smartly picking the best route to wellness and health.
According to various evidence sources and surveys, the use of traditional medicine in chronic disease management is quite common. In fact, traditional medicine has risen to prominence due to this particular reason. Moreover, in this named area, modern medicine is widely regarded as weaker.
By seeking to harmonize both modern and traditional services will help build a better understanding of both the weaknesses and strengths of either and effectively lead to better therapeutic services for patients. Otherwise, the other expected outcome of a different scenario than this is bad medicine, poor healthcare services, as is outlined by the efficient TM quantifiable proven evidence.
As such, gathering evidenced guided by research is consequently considered a vital step, though undeniably, much more is needed for the integration of both systems.
The Difficulty of Integration: Unique Differences between the Types of Healthcare
This can either be by the usage of various body parts from otherwise endangered animal species like rhinos and tigers or the overharvesting of multiple medical plants.
Nonetheless, beyond natural resources sustainability, harmonizing modern and traditional medicine faces multiple challenges that emanate from the fundamental differences in distinctly how each of it is practiced, assessed, and subsequently managed. Some of these fundamental differences include:
Modern Medicine vs. Traditional Medicine
- Knowledge protection: With traditional medicine, they operate under open access, while for modern medicine, it is patent-protected and closed.
- Formulation: when it comes to traditional medicine, the patient-practitioner interaction is ad hoc during the consultation. As for modern medicine, it is pre-determined. Once a patient is tested in the clinical trials, it cannot be altered unless the patient is re-tested.
- Regulation: With traditional medicine, there is virtually no regulation that controls its application, although some nations are attempting to introduce standardization and rules. Contrastingly, legislation on modern medicine is significantly tight to the extent that introducing a new drug into the market takes billion worth of dollars.
- Dosage: Traditional medicine practices follow an unfixed dosage system where the amount of medication administered may be relatively similar to modern medicine, the active ingredient (fundamentally the dosage) can significantly vary. For modern medicine, however, the doses are more often pre-determined and constant and might usually vary due to various conditions like weight, age, or severity of the disease.
- Consultation: typically, consultations between patients and with traditional practitioners are rather lengthy, with the patient being asked about an extensive-ranging set of questions beyond their symptoms. Alternatively, consultations between practitioners and their patients in mainstream healthcare systems are usually brief, precise, and focused, primarily since nation systems of health constantly get strained.
- Training/Qualification: finally, both modern and traditional medicine practices mandate for somewhat lengthy training and over numerous years. However, with the latter, the knowledge is subsequently passed through generations and families on an exclusive ‘one on one’ basis, and the eventual practitioners are usually descendants of a healer or healer family. In the case of modern medicine, the training is often vocational. This means that the various health professionals in practice need to go through vigorous formal training both in schools as well as their universities before joining the field.
Prescription vs. Natural Alternatives:
Alternatively, some individuals are attempting something somewhat different. As mentioned in the description of ”alternative” medicine, more individuals are now considering another option known as natural alternatives. This shift has been initiated by the knowledge that numerous prescribed medications, especially for severe conditions, are associated with multiple and adverse side effects. This awareness has resulted in a surge in demand for natural alternatives.
Comparing and contrasting prescribed medication to natural alternatives can aid you in determining the best route for you. When it comes to natural alternatives, it operates under the belief that this is a treatment option that comprises components that are natural to our human body composition.
As for prescription medicine, there is the notion that what makes prescription medicine result in the various associated side effects is primarily because they go against the fundamental body needs.
Nonetheless, the truth of the matter is that prescription medicine, unlike the natural alternative, is backed by actual data outlining its proven effectiveness. As earlier mentioned, since the inception of modern medicine, significant changes in the overall global health, as well as positive results on some of the most severe medical conditions, have been documented.
For instance, due to prescribed medicine, the total death rated from various severe conditions like heart disease, cancer, and stroke have come down by 60%.
On the contrary, no sufficient and conclusive evidence proves that natural alternatives are a relatively better option in comparison to prescribed medicine. For instance, numerous herbal products have been purported to help alleviate insomnia. Unfortunately, there is virtually almost no evidence from the randomized control tests on the effectiveness of many various herbals.
What’s more, for those which have been adequately assessed like Valerian, they have shown to have no significant benefit. One meta-analysis which comprised 14 randomized tests in more than 1600 patients reported no substantial difference between the use of any placebo and herbal medicine on each of the 13 clinical effectiveness insomnia measures.
To sum up, while it is undeniable that both modern and traditional healthcare practices can and should effectively complement each other, the various disparities between their compositions, among other features, render the process of integration a somewhat complicated issue. This is mainly since boundaries between allopathic and TCAM practices are difficult to establish and monitor, and mostly depend on the various national conventions.
However, this is not to say that it cannot be accomplished. In fact, it is far from it. Evidence indicates that the integration of conventional and traditional medicine has already begun in various regions and is gradually gaining popularity.
MEDICAL RESEARCH AND EVIDENCE ON INTEGRATION:
Evidence and Customary Medicine
1. Procurement of customary medical knowledge
Even though there is proof from China’s Song Dynasty that relative trials were utilized to demonstrate the effects of the treatment, they were not performed in a precise systemic way to advance the knowledge. Mostly, it was assumed that traditional medicine knowledge was underlined through clinical experience and passed on through word of mouth or cataloging the amassed experience via reference texts.
Among the best ways to learn about medicine is the clinical experience. Nonetheless, the advancement of new medical knowledge depends on systematic research, the safety of the treatment method, and costs. This is also considering the current interest in conventional and complementary medicine, safety information, efficiency, and expenses are being demanded by patients, modern & traditional medicine practitioners, as well as governments.
2. Evidence-based medicine (EBM)
Even though EBM stresses the use of RCT, Randomized Control Trials, for the assessment of therapeutic efficiency whenever possible, the EBM practice does not rely wholly on the RCT. Proof to sustain clinical practice can come from several systematic research designs, although these different kinds of research designs do not all result in the same amount of evidence. EBM rules favour specific types of facts as having more weight. The most recent evidence levels given by the Cochrane collaboration are:
- Level I. Strong evidence from no less than one well–designed RCTs’ systematic review of
- Level II. Strong evidence from no less than one RCT
- Level III. Well–designed trials devoid of randomization
- Level IV. Non–experimental evidence
- Level V. Expert opinion
- Level VI. Someone told me.
There are some other ways to equal the evidence presented by various institutions:
EBM is the utilization of the best proof incorporated with specific clinical capability in making a medical decision. One individual cannot stand without the other. Devoid of the clinical know-how evidence might not be adequately applied to different patients. Exclusive of the use of proof, clinical knowledge alone might be prejudiced and out-of-date.
In the process of clinical guideline development, authentic recommendations are sourced from different levels of proof. Substantial evidence is sourced from strong recommendations, for instance, from adequately designed RCTs. Yet, in many circumstances, when good evidence is absent, the panel deliberates typically additional factors like availability of health practitioners, lab & medical interventions, among others, to decide on the ideal recommendations.
Thus, the objective of customary medicine in regions where modern medicine is not readily accessible or affordable has to be stressed. Even though there might be the absence of good evidence, the use of customary medicine interventions might still be a part of many clinical practice guideline endorsements.
EBM is not a procedural research outline – it is a research transfer outline. Utilizing it, however, a health practitioner can transfer his or her knowledge to other clinicians; the experience must be exhibited in a clear way that the recipient can assess the expertise to establish the level of evidence it offers.
Traditional Medicine – Evidence of Practice
1. Basic research in acupuncture
The critical areas of acupuncture were defined in papers by professors Liu Jungling, KyuyaKagura, and Cao Xiaoding, although the group acknowledged that most of the essential original scientific research on acupuncture was not yet available in the English language.
Most of the research about mechanisms of action was executed on acute pain supervision, and it was not clear whether it was related to the impact of acupuncture on chronic pain, which might have various fundamental mechanisms or whether the same mechanisms could be used on other therapeutic acupuncture applications. The problem emphasized the essence of incorporating clinical science as well as primary research in future acupuncture research.
2. Clinical research on acupuncture
All the findings from the reviews are akin in that the trials have been too few and inadequately controlled. Doubts have arisen on the adequacy of treatment, issues with the description placebos, and a group of other methodological issues. Generally, methodological details are absent in may research reports.
Even though there is progress in finding the proper system for acupuncture evaluation, this has not yet resulted in trials of a better standard that can offer reliable results.
Thus, the results from numerous reviews are profoundly inconclusive. Undoubtedly, if the research has to continue, much bigger trials of significantly better quality require to be conducted. Most of the research information remains to be in Chinese and, therefore, not readily available to those performing systematic reviews. On the contrary, the English language studies & reports are not easily obtained within china.
The deductions arrived at from the clinical trial aspect contract significantly with the ones reached by clinicians as well as researchers working form within a customary medicine outline. From within customary medicine, the results of hundreds of years of clinical experience and lots of case studies that acupuncture can be efficient for various clinical conditions.
The up-to-date clinical trial and the customary medicine aspects can be niftily incorporated with the EBM outline described above. It is necessary to acknowledge the proof-based within conventional medicine while also realizing the essence of clarifying the restrictions of customary practice via methodologically sound research, although the design of studies requires integrating customary medicine aspects, including differences in indicative approaches that influence treatment.
3. Basic science research in herbal medicine
What’sWhat’s more, historical data has been the basis of the beginning of fundamental science research, which has resulted in the discovery of distinct active elements. By the use of extremely advanced research methods, several compounds have ideally been unearthed over time and successfully incorporated into clinical application.
Data collection on the use of herbs is a continual process. For instance, more than 100000 herbal preparations in China have been recorded and that are still finding clinical use. Moreover, various researchers in Malaysia, Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji have also recently gone on to publish monographs about medicinal plants with details on traditional use, taxonomy, chemical constituents, among others.
Ideally, herbal products’products’ quality control will have an essential influence on the ultimate efficiency of herbal medicines. As such, China has subsequently introduced some new regulations that mandate for approval of traditional herbal formulas and new raw materials to be effectively categorized as drugs.
As of now, new drug approvals need documentation of cultivation, identification, pharmacology, chemical and physical characteristics, clinical use standards, preparation methods, and stability, not to mention three reference samples. As of now, more than one thousand new drug applications have found approval.
The most recent regulations in Malaysia mandating that herbal products be registered resulted in the eventual licensing of 28.9% of the total proposed products (4778/16518 products). A substantial chunk (71%) of them adequately failed to meet strict legislative requirements concerning their safety, effectiveness, and quality.
Currently, the ongoing research activities include the assessment of active herbal components for efficacy, toxicity, and bioavailability. For instance, in Japan, approximately 80% of the practicing physicians have used herbal formulas at least once in their practice. Japan currently generates 210 Kampo herbal formulas based on distinct and stringent quality controls. Health insurance covers 147 of them.
In the end, these herbal trial reports symbolize some considerable preliminary evidence-primarily of herbal medicine effectiveness in several clinical disorders inclusive of, but not limited to, the ones as aforementioned. Essentially, there is additional evidence in multiple other clinical areas.
Nonetheless, the common characteristic between them is that they are both established to serve a similar objective-promote overall wellbeing of humans. In essence, the modern and ancient healing arts need to coexist. However, there are numerous clear hurdles to the integration of modern and traditional medicine practices.
Better information access, enhancing rigor in the clinical trials, facilitating suitable clinical trials, enhancing collaboration and education of researchers and practitioners, as well as respecting non-allotropic practices in the researches are all vital steps towards successful integration.
Nonetheless, the idea of incorporating these two disciplines will not happen immediately. Although accumulating evidence centered on research is a vital step to starting this, there is much more involved in the integration of modern and traditional medicine. In the end, though, it is worth the effort.