Healing Traditions: Alternative Medicine and the Health Professions

Healing Traditions: Alternative Medicine and the Health Professions

Healing Traditions: Alternative Medicine and the Health Professions

Healing Traditions: Alternative Medicine and the Health Professions

Synopsis

"This fascinating book does much to explain why so many people seek help from alternative therapies like acupuncture or herbalism, traditional Chinese medicine or other non-Western therapies."--

Excerpt

In addition to conventional Western medicine, there are a great number and variety of systems of health belief and practice active in the United States today. Far from dying out in the face of advances in scientific medicine, many nonbiomedical health belief systems are growing in popularity. Included among these are both long-standing traditional systems (often referred to as “folk medicine”) and newer developments and syncretisms such as the many approaches grouped together under the rubrics of holistic health or New Age healing (sometimes referred to as “popular medicine”). I refer to this entire range of folk and popular healing modalities as vernacular health belief (or healing) systems. Together with conventional medicine, these vernacular health care resources constitute a pluralistic American health culture. Contrary to entrenched stereotypes, use of vernacular health care modalities is not confined to “marginal” groups, and only a small number of such systems are used to the virtual exclusion of conventional medicine.

It is now fairly well established that ordinary people’s health care strategies frequently involve the use of both conventional medical and nonconventional approaches, in varying combinations. Use of nonconventional modalities may be undertaken on an occasional or eventspecific basis, or as a part of routine preventive and therapeutic health behavior. This pattern is found across ethnicities, races, social classes, religious preferences, and educational statuses. The possibilities encompass healing modalities ranging from religious and metaphysical practices, to mental and spiritual contemplation, to physical and manipulative therapies, to dietary regimens and supplements, to botanical medicines; and frames of reference ranging from traditional or revitalized ethnic cultures, to humanistic holism, to patient activism, to New Age self-empowerment and self-improvement philosophies.

This book is a study of vernacular health belief systems, and of some . . .

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