The history of alternative medicine can’t be pinned down to a specific era because it’s a line of medicine that’s made up of numerous practices from different parts of the world. Alternative medicine practitioners such as naturopaths and homeopaths have for example operated in the U.S. for more than 150 years. The Chinese and the Indians as well as some European and African communities have however practiced other forms of alternative medicine for a longer period of time. Many medical historians however peg the commencement of a well-integrated alternative medicine practice to the start of the 17th century in some parts of Europe as they also note that this form of medicine wasn’t popular in United States before the turn of the 18th century.
The Revolutionary Era
Come 19th century, a new school of thought concerning medical practices emerged in the U.S. This brought about a fresh look at the world of conventional medical procedures, especially those that were deemed to be painful and expensive but ineffective in the long run. A section of the American society therefore matched towards the 20th century believing that there are forms of alternative medicine that are more effective and affordable than the conventional medical procedures. At this point in time, democratization of knowledge, which touched on all spheres of life, had empowered the Americans and the rest of the world well enough to enable them to fully embrace the benefits of alternative medicine concepts such as:
· Electromagnetic therapy
· Hatha yoga
· Hawaiian massage
· Macrobiotic lifestyle
· Magnetic healing
· Manipulative therapy and,
· Manual lymphatic drainage
Consolidating the Art and History of Alternative Medicine
By 1970s, alternative medicine was still an unacceptable form of medical practice that was frowned upon especially by the conventional medical practitioners. Those who believed in the healing power of alternative medicine were seen as backward individuals with little or no appreciation for evidence based scientific approach to medicine. Alternative medicine subsequently remained on doubt-ridden grounds until 1991 when a U.S. Senator known as Thomas Harkin offered $2 million for the setting up of the Office of Alternative Medicine or OAM, for short. This was after the Senator used bee pollen to successfully cure allergies that had haunted him for years.
Numerous established conventional medical associations advocated for the eradication of OAM but the organization gained popularity at a faster pace despite the outcry. OAM’s annual budget grew to $ 90 million by 1998. The organization is currently commanding billions of dollars that are directed toward research and development prospects which aim at making alternative medicine a supplementary form of treatment to the conventional medical methods.
All these have led to the rise of numerous organizations that are in favor of alternative medicine across the world, turning it into a global-medicine based movement that has even sparked the concept of medical tourism in countries such as India, Israel and Singapore. The history of alternative medicine has over the centuries portrayed it as a safe and sound way of handling simple and complex medical problems using the healing power of natural active ingredients. Therefore, as the world tries to move away from synthetic drugs, alternative medicine is likely to gain more ground and forge ahead into the future as an integral form of medical practice.