Presentation on theme: "Why is alternative medicine so popular? Promises and problems of alternative medicine Dr. Samuel Pfeifer."— Presentation transcript:
Why is alternative medicine so popular? Promises and problems of alternative medicine Dr. Samuel Pfeifer
Desire for healing
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?
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.”
Responsibility and Self-help Distrust against drugs and medicalization Application of natural remedies Balanced nutrition Stress reduction HOWEVER: on which foundation? The Challenge of Alternative Medicine
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)
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.
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)electrodes
Charm stones - Pendulum
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.
esoteric-spiritual Energy transfer through Healing Touch, Reiki etc. Antroposophy Amulets, talismans Schamanism Gems / Charm stones Eastern meditation Energy Channeling Spiritualist healings (psychosurgery) Astrology
Some methods have serious practitioners (e.g. biofeedback) and superstitious / esoteric applications, which makes it difficult to discern. 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)
Four basic assumptions of Alternative Medicine
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.
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).
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.
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.
What are the reasons? Who is attracted by alternative medicine? People who are suffering from Life-threatening diseases, Chronic pain conditions Mental problems
Alternative healing methods bring results. WHY?
Explanatory Models 1.Self Healing of the body 2.Parallel medical treatment 3.Attention, Listening, Comfort 4.Placebo-Effect 5.Suggestion and Hypnosis 6.Unknown Mechanisms? 7.Spiritual powers?
Magical explanation FAITH because... Remedy Psyche Soma It helps... Differentiate: Explanation from creation. Faith in the creator. Explanatory Model and Faith
« 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). Biblical Emphasis
1. Philosophical background 2. Explanatory Model 3. Evidence Base 4. Practical Application 1. Philosophical background 2. Explanatory Model 3. Evidence Base 4. Practical Application NOT: occult or neutral? BUT: critical constructive dialogue. Four Evaluation Criteria
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.. 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.. 1. Explanatory model
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) 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) Evidence Base
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. 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. Practical application
Diversity: There are diverse views even among Christian believers. Conscience: Various levels of the sensitivity Mutual acceptance of diverse views (Romans 14) Diversity: There are diverse views even among Christian believers. Conscience: Various levels of the sensitivity Mutual acceptance of diverse views (Romans 14) Conflicts between alternative medicine and faith
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.
«What we need is not the establishing of an alternative medicine, but an alternative use of medicine.» Thure von Uexküll Quote
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.
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
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.
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.
Ten guidelines 1.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. 2.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.
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.
Ten guidelines 6. WE AFFIRM the laying of hands and healing prayer over a sick person, following the instruction in James 5. 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.
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).
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. Most frequent “method“