Medicine has two main definitions depending on wether we are referring to medicine as the science of healing or as a substance that contributes to the healing process.
Medicine as treatment is the science of diagnosing, treating, or preventing disease and other damage to the body or mind. It is the treatment for illness or injury, or the study of this. Medicine is the art and science of healing (from the latin ars medicina). It encompasses a range of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness.
Medicine is also any substance, drug or remedy for use in treating, preventing, or alleviating the symptoms of disease or injury.
All human societies have medical beliefs that provide explanations for birth, death, and disease. Although there is no record to establish when plants were first used for medicinal purposes (herbalism), the use of plants as healing agents is an ancient practice which has survived to this day.
The history of medicine is fully intermingled with the history of the human race, where the need for medical treatment has naturally brought a need for care and healing. As an example: Through emulation of the behavior of fauna a medicinal knowledge base developed and was passed between generations.
The objective of medicine is to address people’s unavoidable needs for emotional and physical healing. The discipline has evolved over time by drawing on the religious beliefs and social structures of numerous indigenous peoples, by exploiting natural products in their environments, and more recently by developing and validating therapeutic and preventive approaches using the scientific method. Public health and medical practices have now advanced to a point at which people can anticipate—and even feel entitled to—lives that are longer and of better quality than ever before in human history.
The road to understanding all the mysteries behind healing has taken us thousands of years and, in many ways, there is still much confusion about what is the best practice and the best method for curing every single specific ailment.
Medicine was revolutionized in the 19th century and beyond by advances in chemistry and laboratory techniques and equipment, but modern western medicine alone can't heal all diseases in spite of its dependence on modern syntethic drugs. Medical errors like wrong prescriptions, faulty procedures, over-use of drugs leading to antibiotic resistance in bacteria and harmful emotional distress from the ascription of mental pathology nomenclature for transient personal problems are some examples of things that can go wrong. This kind of complications are commonly referred as iatrogenesis.A definitive review and close reading of medical peer-review journals, and governments health statistics shows that in the US and western european countries the number of people having in-hospital, adverse drug reactions (ADR) to prescribed medicine is raising dramatically.
Many people utilize mainstream medicine for diagnosis and basic information, while turning to alternatives for what they believe to be health-enhancing measures.
Studies indicate that alternative approaches are often used in conjunction with conventional medicine. This is referred to by NCCAM as integrative (or integrated) medicine because it "combines treatments from conventional medicine and CAM for which there is some high-quality evidence of safety and effectiveness."
According to Andrew T. Weil M.D., a leading proponent of integrative medicine, the principles of integrative medicine include: appropriate use of conventional and CAM methods; patient participation; promotion of health as well as treatment of disease; and a preference for natural, minimally-invasive methods.
The Washington Post reports that a growing number of traditionally trained physicians practice integrative medicine, which it defines as "conventional medical care that incorporates strategies such as acupuncture, reiki and herbal remedies.»
Other articles in this series:
- Medicine: Ancient writings
- Medicine; Online Etymology Dictionary.
- Medicine; Cambridge Dictionary
- Iatrogenic factors and chronic pain; Kouyanou, K; Pither, CE; Wessely.
- Death by Medicine; Gary Null PhD, Carolyn Dean MD ND, Martin Feldman MD, Debora Rasio MD and Dorothy Smith PhD.
- Imposing Personal Responsibility for Health; Robert Steinbrook, M.D.
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Haile T. Debas, Ramanan Laxminarayan, and Stephen E. Straus.
- What is Integrative Medicine; Weil, Andrew.
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.
- "Mainstream Physicians Try Such Alternatives as Herbs Acupuncture and Yoga"; Washington Post.
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