History of Medicine in America
Let’s look back to the beginning of this article at that quote from the great Abraham Lincoln. This time let’s consider what he’s saying in the context of what we have just learned regarding medicine in America.
“Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this (the Civil War), we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us therefore study the incidents in this as philosophy to learn wisdom from and none of them as wrongs to be avenged.”
Just like Lincoln said, let us study these incidents to attain wisdom. I do not bring up our history of medicine in America to try and right any perceived wrong. Nor do I bring up our history to try and superimpose any possible motivations of any current medical professional or individual. Whatever negative perceptions of actions taken to manipulate the American medical free marketplace in the past, there have been many good things that have come out of this action as well.
After all, what we learn from history is that human nature is the same it always was. We will always have a myriad of people who are silly, wise, good, bad, weak and strong as any other time in history. The value in learning the history of medicine in America is in its ability to help us understand how our current accepted and established perceptions, ideas, and culture have been put into place.
They did change the definition of a doctor, narrowing the scope of doctor and even “healer” to only one persuasion of thought and approach, and the processes by which an individual enters that profession, as well as changing public perception of the “irregular” medical systems. Though, they did not succeed in changing the very heart and core of American values. The values of freedom and the free market place of ideas still survives! Though Alternative Medicine has been segmented into a sub-market of its own, having been coined in our day as “Alternative” and “Complimentary”, both words of bias that are used in reference and comparison to what has been accepted as standard and established, the diverse marketplace of systems for health and healing have remained intact and are still available to the American public.
This article shows the slower growth in the fields of Alternative medicine in America in our modern era is because the support from the nation was withdrawn by men who sought power through our legal system. When given the opportunity to compete with Allopathic medicine on equal grounds, Alternative medicine did quite well, establishing itself as half of the healing marketplace. Looking through the lens of time, we see that some men sought to devalue the validity of medical systems different from their own. By superimposing their will through official government acts, contrary from the will of the public, they were able to establish a system of healthcare that still remains with us today, and has since been greatly expanded. For those who took power over the medical system, their hope was twofold, to raise the bar of their own medical practice and to kill differing ideas of health and healing by controlling the environment in which these systems would either thrive or decline by their own merit, thereby making it more favorable for themselves.
As a Chinese Medicine Herbalist I’ve had the pleasure to talk to many people about medicine. Unfortunately, many people assume the reason for Chinese Medicine’s, or any other Alternative Medical system for that matter, lack of widespread acceptance is because it is not as “good” or “scientific” or “proven” as our current, biomedical system of medicine. The truth is this type of medicine has always been here, as it has always been wanted and needed by the public at large. It seems to me, that there will always be a fairly significant portion of the American population, though a minority at that, who will always prefer solutions that offer a more natural approach to health and healing. By natural, I mean, does not include harsh chemical agents, whether they be mineral in their source or manufactured in a lab, and do not include the harsh realities of surgery.
Though, Alternative Medicine in our current era is still less prominent, it is not because it is any less effective than any other. The various systems of Alternative Medicine in our day are, in fact, many. These many systems all stand on their own, each with merits of their very own which should be judged separately as such, from a point of objectivity. The same should be done with our current Allopathic Medical System. Perhaps, now is the time that as a nation, we the American people, are acknowledging that the process of evaluating the inherent merits of the wide range of health choices available to us is just beginning.
The field of Alternative Medicine continues to grow, with more and more Americans seeing the merits of the diverse market place and reaping the benefits of such. With roughly 1/3 of American’s using some form of Complimentary Alternative Medicine every year, the field will only continue to grow because the public demands it, as it always has even from the beginning of our nation’s birth!