Health: East vs. West?

The World Health Organization recognizes health to be the following:

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Although this was recognized in their 1948 constitution, it doesn’t seem that the whole world has accepted health as holistic, as shown through the increase in reliance on modern medicine. Why is that so?

Western medicine is much more convenient and immediate in modern society because people simply do not have the time and patience holistic healing requires. In some cases, holistic healing may not even work, depending on the severity of the situation.

So the question remains: should we trust eastern medicine (ayurveda and homeopathy) or the already familiar western medicine? As with most questions in life, the answer unfortunately lies in a gray area.

Holistic healing and natural medicine is overall a better choice for long-term problems. For example, if one wants to cure an allergy, they would use the ayurvedic approach by feeding the person what they are allergic to in very small amounts each day, until their body gets used to it and overcomes the allergy. A natural alternative to western medicine, this process is also more sustainable. However, if we take an instance where a person is having a severe allergic reaction with swelling of the throat, western medicine is far more preferable. An Epi-Pen can save the person’s life, even if it means the cure is not natural.

Sometimes, even western medicine can turn a blind eye to the diversity of issues. Fibromyalgia is a diagnosis with widespread pain and no universally accepted cure. It is one of the most common diagnoses that doctors give when they don’t know what the actual condition is. The treatment: painkillers. The patient is destined to a life of pills and suppressing the pain, instead of removing it entirely. If that person turns to eastern medicine—yoga—they’ll be able to isolate the pain and reduce it through physical exercises, mental control, and inner awareness.

A combination of both traditional remedies and modern medicine is optimal. It takes a lot of credibility for the western world to accept different cultures. Ayurveda and homeopathy are looked down upon as inferior forms of medicine because of their lack of immediate results. Sure, it may not work as soon as we would like it to, but that shouldn’t discredit the incredible curing abilities we can unlock with just a little bit of patience.