Modern vs. Traditional Medicine: A Battle for the Best Treatment
The body’s response to certain remedies, whether they are traditional or modern, is different for every individual. The future of medicine could be a mixture of both modern and traditional treatments.
Author: Cassandra Lee
Since brought into being, humans have been at war with microscopic villains known as viruses and bacteria. Having wiped out entire species over the course of their existence, these pathogens are no stranger to the human immune system, and they have done their fair share of damage by introducing lethal forms such as the bubonic plague, the Spanish flu, and polio. Thankfully, many of these illnesses have been cured due to advancements in pasteurization, vaccination, and antibiotic development, and scientists are working around the clock to find new and innovative ways of treating the thousands of pathogens that still exist in our natural environment.
Modern medicine has revolutionized over the past century, but this does not mean that these modern methods are 100% effective. In fact, despite their everyday use and high success rates, modern-day medicine also comes with health implications and possible side effects that can sometimes worsen an individual’s health condition . Such examples can be seen in drugs aimed at treating disorders such as depression and anxiety .
The most common type of antidepressant is called an SSRI, or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor . This type of drug, as titled, prevents serotonin reuptake, leading to an increased amount of the serotonin hormone in the body, allowing for mood stabilization and promotion of happiness [3,4]. On the flip side, antidepressants are known to cause many side effects, and can often lead to nausea, insomnia, dizziness, headaches, sexual dysfunction, and a loss of appetite . A more pressing problem originating from these drugs is an increased frequency of suicidal thoughts, which is due to certain serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors . When serotonin levels are increased in the body, patients can be led into a state of “akathisia”, which induces restlessness and impulsivity . These behavioural changes can further lead to an increased risk of psychosis and suicidal behaviours . This begets the question whether complete or partial non-medical treatment options can be applied to achieve safer outcomes for these patients.
Similarly, many drugs produced by modern medicine can produce a myriad of side effects, many of which can be avoided if individuals take natural remedies into consideration. In fact, this practice can be found in many Asian cultures — belief in naturopathy is on the rise, and Chinese or Indian herbs are sometimes considered to be effective natural methods of combating illnesses . Examples of these natural remedies include acupuncture or cupping, which are characteristic of ancient Chinese medicine .
In believing that human health depends on the energy that flows through all living things, many Chinese remedies believe that the five elements of life — earth, fire, wood, water, and metal — are needed to promote health and balance . At the same time, Indian medicine, also known as ayurveda, uses spices and plants to encourage a healthy lifestyle . For instance, ashwagandha, a plant found in India and in Northern Africa, helps to reduce the cortisol hormone, thus reducing anxiety and stress .
These herbal remedies may be somewhat unconventional and may not always have scientific proof to support their claims, but many individuals have experienced significant improvements due to these treatments .
At the end of the day, there is no correct universal treatment. The body’s response to certain remedies, whether they are traditional or modern, is different for every individual. The future of medicine could be a mixture of both modern and traditional treatments , and with the medical field being as innovative as ever, it is without a doubt that scientists and doctors around the world will continue to bring creative and effective treatments to patients for years to come.
Kaz Shuji, Ibrahim Alayche, Rhea Verma
Web design by Majd Al-Aarg
Cover photo provided by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash
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