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Why is alternative medicine

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Presentation on theme: "Why is alternative medicine"— Presentation transcript:

1 Why is alternative medicine
Dr. Samuel Pfeifer Why is alternative medicine so popular? Promises and problems of alternative medicine

2 Desire for healing

3 What is health? For many, health means considerably more than the absence of sickness. Ideal of absolute well-being – physical, psychological, social. Health is almost a spiritual quest. Can traditional / scientific medicine fulfill this yearning?

4 Herbal Medicine and Alternative Medicine
Today, the movement of alternative medicine is much more than traditional Chinese herbal medicine. The term alternative medicine, as used in the modern western world, encompasses any healing practice "that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine.”

5 The Challenge of Alternative Medicine
Responsibility and Self-help Distrust against drugs and medicalization Application of natural remedies Balanced nutrition Stress reduction HOWEVER: on which foundation?

6 Four major groups of methods
„Mind-Body Interventions“ Biological-pharmacological (e.g. homeopathy) Physical-energetic (e.g. Acupuncture, Massage) Esoteric-spiritual (e.g. Meditation, Reiki) Psychological / psychotherapeutic (e.g. Meditation, Reincarnation Therapy)

7 Diagnostic Methods Dowsing - Pendulum
Bioresonance: Energy points and blockades Applied Kinesiology: Asking for muscular responses in the „arm-pull-down-test“. Analysis of blood, urine and hair for trace elements or „markers“ Characteristic emotional states (Bach Flower Remedies) Iridology „Kirlian Aura" Etc. etc.

8 biologic-pharmacological
Herbal Remedies Neural Therapy Nutritional Therapies Bach Flower Remedies Homeopathy Trace Elements (Orthomolecular Medicine) Megavitamins Removal of Amalgam Aroma Therapy

9 Physical-energetic methods
Acupuncture (needles, laser etc.) Bioresonance Therapy Mind Machines Dowsing for earth radiations Copper rings Foot reflex zone massage and other forms of massage Example bioresonance: „Usually electrodes, linked to a box, are applied to the patient's skin. According to the manufacturer of these devices, they emit alternating currents which are claimed to be healing. They describe cells as resonating objects (with unknown frequency and energy however) having a natural resonance (ie bio-resonance).“ (Wikipedia)

10 Charm stones - Pendulum

11 Esotericism DEFINITION: Esoteric knowledge is that which is available only to a narrow circle of "enlightened", "initiated", or specially educated people. Today it encompasses a spiritual movement informed by ancient traditions, eastern wisdom or magical beliefs.

12 esoteric-spiritual Energy transfer through Healing Touch, Reiki etc.
Antroposophy Amulets, talismans Schamanism Gems / Charm stones Eastern meditation Energy Channeling Spiritualist healings (psychosurgery) Astrology

13 Psychological-psychotherapeutic
Autosuggestion Self hypnosis Visualization (cancer) Biofeedback Applied Kinesiology Emotional Freedom Technique Rebirthing-Breathwork Bio-Energetic therapies Example Emotional freedom technique: „EFT is a psychotherapeutic alternative medicine tool based on a theory that negative emotions are caused by disturbances in the body's energy field and that tapping on the meridians while thinking of a negative emotion alters the body's energy field, restoring it to "balance.“ (Wikipedia) Some methods have serious practitioners (e.g. biofeedback) and superstitious / esoteric applications, which makes it difficult to discern.

14 Four basic assumptions of Alternative Medicine

15 1. We are part of universal energies
Body and Mind are part of a universal energy field. which carries various names: vital force, bioenergy, Ch’i, Prana, or simply God. The energy is supposed to circulate in meridians or energetic channels. The Chakras are a Hindu concept of seven energetic centers which control the flow of energy and are supposed to correspond with endocrine glands and major organs.

16 2. Macrocosm and Microcosm
Macrocosm finds its correspondence in microcosm: The constellation of the stars reflects human destiny (astrology), the microcosm of the eyes tells you about the physical condition of the macrocosm of the body (iridology), the microcosm of the feet reflects the disharmony of the organism (foot reflexology), or the ear is a microcosmic representation of the energy flow in the body (ear acupuncture). Bach flower remedies correlate the characteristics of plants with a person’s emotional condition (e.g., holly is said to be a remedy for hatred, envy and jealousy).

17 3. Disease and energetic imbalance
Disease is the result of energetic imbalance or disharmony with universal cosmic energy. Causes: e.g. pathogenic vibrations, energy blockades in the Chakras or in the meridians. tooth fillings, old scars from surgery. Emotional blocks, undesirable emotional conditions in which a person is estranged from the universal cosmic stream of energy.

18 Healing and restoration of wholeness
Healing is the restoration of harmony with cosmic energy. Many alternative therapies try to restore vital energy, to harmonize vibrations or to balance Yin and Yang. Healing in this concept is not just applying a method, rather it is the ritual with deep spiritual overtones.

19 Who is attracted by alternative medicine?
People who are suffering from Life-threatening diseases, Chronic pain conditions Mental problems What are the reasons?

20 Alternative healing methods bring results.

21 ? Black box of healing What works? success! environment before after
Endogenous factors. Energy: rays, fields, vibrations Astral body, Aura Reflexes Meridians Neutralizing Meditation Cellular regeneration Immunological processes Biochemical processes Pharmacological effects Neurobiological aspects Functional vascular effects Stress reduction

22 Explanatory Models Self Healing of the body Parallel medical treatment
Attention, Listening, Comfort Placebo-Effect Suggestion and Hypnosis Unknown Mechanisms? Spiritual powers?

23 Explanatory Model and Faith
Magical explanation FAITH because . . . Remedy Psyche Soma It helps . . . Erklärung der Wirkung aus der Schöpfung Glaube an den Schöpfer Differentiate: Explanation from creation. Faith in the creator.

24 Biblical Emphasis «See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,» Colossians 2:8 - 9 Priorities: not primarily magical or occult contamination, but the question of world view (philosophy) and evidence (not hollow and deceptive).

25 Four Evaluation Criteria
NOT: occult or neutral? BUT: critical constructive dialogue. 1. Philosophical background 2. Explanatory Model 3. Evidence Base 4. Practical Application

26 1. Explanatory model Ist it possible to explain the method without occult / magical beliefs? Indication: What are the problems it is claiming to cure? (Meditation against cancer?) Mixed findings: Anthroposophical remedies are produced with amgical rites, but they contain valuable plants. Acupuncture relies on energy concepts, but it can trigger neurohormonal reactions..

27 Evidence Base Is there evidence for the explanatory model?
Diagnostic specifity and therapeutic effectivity Controlled studies vs. „anecdotal evidence“ Beware of partial explanations which are linked! (e.g. Coca-Cola / Birth complications) Diagnostische Spezifität: Beispiel Irisdiagnose - Studie in San Diego: Einfache Frage: ist eine Person nierenkrank - ja oder nein. Ein Heiler stellte bei über 70 Prozent eine Nierenkrankheit fest. Allerdings vermutete er auch eine Nierenerkrankung bei überdurchschnittlich vielen gesunden menschen.

28 Practical application
In which context is the practitioner applying a method or a remedy? e.g. herbal remedies are spiritually neutral, but are they selected with magical rites? e.g. Acupuncture is being practiced without much philosophical reflection despite its philosophical underpinnings and the lack of evidence.

29 Conflicts between alternative medicine and faith
Diversity: There are diverse views even among Christian believers. Conscience: Various levels of the sensitivity Mutual acceptance of diverse views (Romans 14)

30 Dangers of complimentary medicine
1. Danger of irrationality: A method can only be experienced (and believed) personally. Subjective results may not be doubted, even if they are obscure. 2. Psychologizing physical diseases (e.g. applied kinesiology) – can it be that psychological conflicts are causing cancer and hormonal disorders? 3. Producing guilt feelings when treatments fail: Is it your fault, when you are sick? 4. Introduction of a new spirituality under the banner of „He who heeals, is right“ without theological reflection.

31 Quote «What we need is not the establishing of an alternative medicine, but an alternative use of medicine.» Thure von Uexküll

32 Alternative remedies in mild disoders
1. Herbal remedies 2. Massage and other wellness applications. 3. Relaxation techniques without philosophical underpinnings or (seemingly) simple measures such as walking, swimming or listening to soothing music.

33 Four lessons we can learn
As little as possible, as much as necessary The question of worldviews Patient expectations on the physical level Patient expectations on the emotional level

34 Issues in counselling 1. As little as possible, as much as necessary: There is no need to take a multitude of remedies, even if they are „alternative“. 2. The question of world view: Highly sensitive persons can develop fears and tensions when they dabble in alternative healing methods conflicting with their faith.

35 Issues 2 3. Patient expectations on the physical level: Is alternative healing applied as a complimentary measure or is it preventing effective treatment? 4. Patient expectations on the emotional level : Alternative medicine often fulfills the need for attention, expression and hope. Just warning against alternative treatment can lead to major crisis even when the objections are warranted.

36 Ten guidelines WE AFFIRM a holistic view of the human existence in all its dimensions – however on the foundation of the word of God and the Biblical image of the person. WE REJECT a syncretistic pantheistic view of life which has its roots in esoteric assumptions. WE AFFIRM responsibility and discretion in the use of medical technology. WE REJECT the unscientific substitution of proven medical treatments by alternative „natural“ or magical-spiritual therapies without sufficient base of evidence.

37 Ten guidelines 3. WE AFFIRM the desire to view illness and healing within a context which includes spiritual aspects. WE REJECT a cosmic view of disease on the background of Eastern and mystical spirituality. 4. WE AFFIRM the supporting of God-given self-healing processes of our bodies. WE REJECT a psychological ideology of self realization and mystical techniques to enhance self-healing by Eastern meditation or energetic channelling. 5. WE AFFIRM Biblical meditation, meaning the study of the Word of God and meditative prayers within the Christian context. WE REJECT spiritual techniques which lead a person to draw upon inner energies, autosuggestion or contacting spiritual forces.

38 Ten guidelines 6. WE AFFIRM the laying of hands and healing prayer over a sick person, following the instruction in James WE REJECT the laying of hands and massage with the goal to transfer „healing energies“ on a patient. 7. WE AFFIRM an openness for supernatural healing and miracles through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the community of a Christian church and the context of the Gospel. WE REJECT „spirit healing“ with the help of occult powers and spiritual energies.

39 Ten guidelines 8. WE AFFIRM the necessity to confess and to turn from occult practices. If the spiritual background of a healing method is unclear, rather advise to do without it. WE REJECT a premature and ill-founded explanation of mental and physical symptoms as a sign of „occult bondage“ caused by alternative treatment. 9. WE AFFIRM the reality of human frailty, temptation and weakness. WE REJECT the notion that good health is an expression of harmony with God. 10. WE AFFIRM that God may use suffering to help a person to grow in faith or that he may show his strength in weakness. The Christian church has a substantial calling to care in a holistic way for suffering members, including not only healing but also supporting the weak (1. Thessalonians 5:14).

40 Most frequent “method“
The most frequent method of alternative healing is … prayer David M. Eisenberg et al., „Unconventional medicine in the United States“, The New England Journal of Medicine 328 (4), (1993): 246–252.

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