We live in a society that is divided, yet we need one another more than ever. The natural health and conventional medicine sectors are a prime example. These groups are torn by titles and techniques rather than being united by a common mission to help people feel better and to live long, happy lives.
These two healthcare fields can coexist. Each has different levels of authority, ability, and scope of practice, but both have a place in helping the world to become healthier. It is not a question of which field is better than the other as each has a unique focus and attracts different individuals based on their personal preferences and where they are on their journey to wellness.
So, why does the medical field and the natural health field seem at odds? The answer: “one bad apple can ruin the bunch.” One natural health professional practicing beyond their scope of practice can tarnish the reputations of many. After all, this kind of story catches our attention. Similarly, one doctor who trusted a research paper or treatment method that ended up causing more harm than good can also illicit distrust.
But, it’s time to alleviate the tension that has existed between these two fields.
The language, scope of practice, and recommendations may differ, but these two fields can and do complement one another. Even beyond what falls into the realm of natural healthcare, there are certain steps that everyone should take to care for our bodies, minds, and spirits.
Read on to learn how the medical and natural health fields complement one another and how we can work together to achieve a common mission.
Definitions, Approach & Techniques
Conventional medicine focuses on treating symptoms and alleviating problems. While underlying causes are an important factor in treatment, focusing on the root cause in terms of a whole-person approach isn’t as much of a priority. For example, a conventional doctor wouldn’t necessarily look at your personality, history, stress levels, or lifestyle choices to determine a treatment; they would treat the manifestation of the root cause, the disease.
In natural health, the root cause is the most important factor in deciding what techniques to try and which to avoid. Natural medicine also focuses heavily on prevention rather than finding a cure, as is the case in conventional medicine. For example, natural health practitioners prioritize supporting the immune system so that the body can naturally protect and heal itself from ailments.
One distinguishing factor between natural health and conventional medicine is the methods used to support an individual. Conventional medicine treats patients with prescription drugs, dietary changes, preventative measures, radiation, and invasive surgeries; this field has full reign on these protocols.
Natural health practitioners are called to practice non-invasive techniques, such as herbology, massage therapy, or iridology. Natural health supporters prefer all-natural techniques whenever possible, for long-term or acute issues, especially over the use of synthetic drugs.
There are several instances where these differences in philosophy and scope of practice lead to an opportunity for complementary care. For example, an individual with a severe illness or emergency should seek medical care, even if they prefer natural health techniques for non-emergency care. During the health crisis, natural techniques can be employed to foster recovery and holistically support the person.
Conventional medicine has taken notice of the benefits of natural and alternative health protocols. It’s not uncommon for a doctor to prescribe massage therapy, supplementation, or refer a patient to a dietitian. However, a referral to a dietitian is still only addressing one of the possible causes of an ailment, in this case, poor nutritional choices leading to obesity. Practitioners in the natural health field would instead gain an encompassing view of the individual to determine their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual foundations before making any recommendations.
Some argue that health-related knowledge, including information about food choice, is solely in the domain of the medical field. This leaves entirely too much responsibility on the shoulders of our medical professionals. No matter if you’re a mother looking to care for her family or a physician counseling a patient, we all have a right to basic knowledge pertaining to our health.
Lastly, conventional medical professionals may recommend complementary methods to reduce or eliminate side effects or dependency on prescription drugs. For example, an addiction that resulted from the use of prescription pain pills may be supported by complementary methods such as acupuncture, chiropractic, or health coaching.
Time Restraints & Scope of Practice
Many medical doctors’ days are packed from the time they enter their offices to the time they leave. There is barely enough time to fill out medical records, even with adequate staff assisting. This leaves doctors in a predicament that is difficult to remedy; they simply don’t have enough time to do it all.
This is where people in the natural health community can help. Natural health professionals focus on supporting the body, mind, and spirit so that an individual can make long-term choices to improve their health. Often, doctors and medical staff want to educate their patients but they simply don’t have enough time to sit with them, explain each step, and support them through the changes. A traditional health coach would excel in this role.
The scope of practice is extremely important to consider when deciding whether to seek out a natural health practitioner or a medical professional. Natural health practitioners do not use medical terminology or focus on symptoms. They do not “treat,” “cure,” or “heal” diseases or conditions. They are, however, able to physiologically support the organs, help to build the body’s immunity, and use non-invasive techniques.
Natural health professionals do not prescribe medications, create treatment plans, or prepare dietary plans. They can recommend healthy foods, herbs, or supplements that may help to support the body’s organ systems and functions.
When people are passionate about a lifestyle choice or belief, it’s normal for them to defend it. It’s also a normal feeling to want to discredit those that seem to disagree with their beliefs. However, it’s beneficial to see how natural health and conventional medicine can complement instead of opposing one another.
Doctors, nurses, and natural health practitioners alike all care about the individuals they work with. They each believe in a code of ethics and never intend to harm. Of course, there may always be a bad apple or two, but these “apples” don’t represent the whole bunch!
In the future, we could look at natural health as a precursor and complement to conventional medicine. For example, people can focus on building their immunity using natural health techniques and still attend their yearly check-up to ensure their body is in functioning order. We could also view natural health as a way of life and rely on conventional medicine for more serious or emergency situations.
Additionally, people could go to a conventional medical doctor or an integrative medical doctor to discover a diagnosis. The treatment plan could then allow them to pursue natural health to support their bodies and emotions so the body can heal itself or they could pursue a conventional treatment approach, depending on the severity of the diagnosis.
Keep in mind that it is always important to advocate for your health and to get a second, third, or fourth opinion from a medical doctor for possible treatment options. If you are more inclined to alternative medicine, then see an integrative medical physician so you can effortlessly combine the benefits of conventional medicine and natural health.
Interested in Learning More About Natural Health?
Natural health is a way of life that can greatly help the body, mind, and spirit on a daily basis. By taking a whole-person approach to eating nutritious foods, supplementing nutrition as needed, exercising, and using non-invasive techniques as much as possible, we are taking responsibility for our health. However, natural health practitioners or conventional medicine is always there to help should we need it.
At Trinity School of Natural Health, we offer 13 diverse natural health programs. These programs can help you to start a career in natural health or to implement more natural health techniques into your daily life. Visit our website at trinityschool.org or call 800-428-0408 (option 2) to learn more about our natural health education programs and certifications.