Exploring the Boundaries between Alternative Medicine and Biomedicine

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Alternative medicine has been considered the “hidden mainstream” of patient care in America. As biomedicine increased in popularity, alternative methods of healing arose as a response to the treatments used by physicians. Historically, alternative (or “complementary”) medicine conveyed itself by highlighting its “natural” attributes. These characteristics attracted those who were wary of the chemicals used in allopathic medicines. Much of the skepticism that has accompanied complementary alternative medicine (CAM) stems from the lack of scientifically-based evidence that shows its efficacy; there is no “alternative” medicine there is simply “unproven” medicine (Fontanarosa and Lundberg 1618). This argument suggests that medicine and…show more content…
The founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, was originally an MD who regularly practiced biomedicine in the late 1700s (Whorton 49). Homeopathic ideology involves treating a disease with cures that produce similar effects as the disease (“same suffering”) as opposed to treating a disease with substances that are meant to produce opposite effects (“allopathy”) (Whorton 52). As Hahnemann progressed in his practice as a physician, he began to lose trust in the worth of the treatments he provided—treatments he had been taught would be effective for their target disease. He claimed that medicine was “founded upon perhapses and blind chance” and were not tailored to cure the diseases of individual patients; medicine saw disease as something finite and similarly experienced across patients with similar illnesses (Whorton 56). Hahnemann believed that conventional medicine is objective and independent of a patient’s perspective of his or her own disease; it is an impersonal approach to personal problems. For example, a “headache” could mean something different to separate individuals because each of them may experience it differently. Consequently, he made his homeopathic remedies specific to his patients (Whorton 57).
Since the dilutions of homeopathic remedies reached nearly infinitesimal quantities of an actual drug, many homeopaths believed that some sort of “spirit” was an
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