What is Alternative Medicine?

By Richard Lewis

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” -Thomas Edison

Alternative medicine has gained in patient acceptance in the last several years as patients look for answers and solutions to chronic illness. In 1993, The New England Journal of Medicine reported that “An estimated one in three persons in the U.S. adult population used [alternative] therapy in 1990.” Most likely, the number has continued to grow.

70% of cardiologists polled at a recent meeting were taking vitamin E.

The journal went on to point out that “for medical doctors currently caring for patients with back problems, anxiety, depression or chronic pain, the odds are greater than one in three that a patient is simultaneously using [alternative] therapy for these medical problems without disclosing this fact.” They added that 72 percent of those responding to the survey did not inform their standard medical doctor that they were using alternative therapies.

It further pointed out that, “The frequency of use of [alternative] therapy varied somewhat among sociodemographic groups, with the highest use reported by nonblack persons from 25 to 49 years of age who had relatively more education and higher incomes. The majority (83 percent) used [alternative] therapy for chronic, opposed to life-threatening, medical conditions.”

Thomas Edison caught the essence of alternative medicine as practiced at The Center when he defined his doctor of the future. Add to this a quote from Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) who been called the father of modern medicine, “It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know the sort of disease a person has,” and you have the essence of The Center’s care.

Alternative medicine has into our lexicon only recently, though, as both Thomas Edison and Hippocrates pointed out, the ideas and many of the therapies have been around for a long time. What has happened in the last few years since the term came into usage and what effect is it having on the medicine as practiced in the United States? Here is a short, incomplete list of highlights:

• 43 medical schools now departments of alternative medicine.

• The National Institute of Health has an Office of Alternative Medicine which is handing out several millions of dollars in grant money for the study of alternative medicine.

• The word “antioxidants” has become almost a household word and there is more vitamin C in American medicine cabinets than aspirin.

• 70% of cardiologists polled at a recent meeting were taking vitamin E

• Hoffman LaRoch, a giant.., pharmaceutical company, has bought a huge beta carotene plant that promises to make enough beta carotene capsules each year to supply one a day for every man, woman, and child in the U.S.

• More out-of-pocket money is being spent on alternative therapies than hospitalization.

• Alternative therapies are regularly featured in all facets of the national media.

The late Roger Williams, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, showed if one takes a group of fifteen to twenty people, their nutritional requirements will vary from person to person by as much as 700 percent. This variation he referred to as each person’s biochemical individuality.

At The Center, we look very carefully at each person’s biochemical individually. “What we try to do at The Center is characterize that individual’s biochemical status and look for those deep deficiencies that cannot be corrected by a balanced diet,” says Ron Hunninghake, M.D., director of the Olive White Garvey Center for Healing Arts, the clinical arm of The Center. Dr. Riordan adds that, “nutrients are the keys to all degenerative diseases.”

Through the help of the Bio-Center Laboratory, the doctors at The Center receive a picture of each person’s biochemical makeup-what shape their nutrients are in at that time. With the help of The Center’s counseling services, each patient learns how to use mental medicine to bring into play the entire body/mind complex to gain the maximum effect from all healing therapies. Through this biochemical individuality, The Center looks for the underlying cause or causes for the particular chronic problem or problems the individual may bring to The Center. To paraphrase Hippocrates, we are more ‘interested in the individual than we are the disease.

Alternative medicine has proven very successful with our patients in relieving the effects of chronic disease through natural processes that are very comfortable for the individual to follow. As Dr. Riordan has long said, “We practice non-acute care the way it must be practiced by the year 2000 because we cannot afford to continue doing it the way we are doing it now.” His prophecy is rapidly coming true.