What is conventional medicine and why is it not the answer for solving chronic diseases?
Conventional medicine is a system in which doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery. One might also hear it called as Allopathic medicine/ Western medicine/ Orthodox medicine/ Mainstream medicine/ Biomedicine or something also as a Standard medical care.
But after all these years this so-called ‘standard care’ has proven unsuitable for the treatment of chronic diseases. But why? You will find out soon.
First of, as CDC defines them, Chronic Diseases are conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both. These are consequences of risk behaviours like poor dietary choices, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, stress, excessive alcoholism and smoking, too much use of electronics and more. The major chronic diseases are known to be-
- Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) or heart diseases
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Respiratory diseases
Also known as non-communicable diseases (NCDs), these are responsible for more than half of total deaths each year worldwide, and the incidence has grown tremendously over the last fifty years. (Chronic diseases aka NCDs are non-infectious health conditions that cannot be spread from person to person usually resulting from genetic, physiological, lifestyle, and environmental factors).
Indians need to think deeply about chronic diseases given India’s rising distinction of becoming the diabetes capital of the world. At the present stage, chronic diseases account for 53 percent of total deaths each year in India, which is expected to grow up to 67 percent by 2030.
Now, conventional medicine evolved during a time when the leading causes of death were acute, infectious diseases. Today things aren’t quite so simple. People, now-a-days visit a doctor not only for acute problems but also for the chronic ones. This complicates matters because chronic diseases are difficult to manage, expensive to treat, require more than just a doctor and typically last for a lifetime. Here are 10 pitfalls of conventional medicine and why it is not the ideal option when it comes to treating chronic diseases:
- Failing to address the root cause of problems
Conventional medicine focuses on treating a particular disease by suppressing the symptoms rather than addressing or finding the root cause of the disease. For e.g., there is rarely any serious investigation into why your blood sugar or blood pressure is high in the first place.
- Failing to apply the right way of treatment
New technological inventions have been adopted as a part of conventional medicine treatment and are doing some stunning things with the potential to fight cancer, reattaching limbs, to name a few. These technical approaches, however, might not be the best ones to cure or treat a chronic disease because more than 85% of these are caused by poor lifestyle and dietary behaviours.
- Misconception about being a ‘cure all’ model
As we can see during the time when conventional medicine evolved, the treatment was relatively simple. For e.g., back when someone developed Pneumonia or other acute problems, he went to see a doctor, got an antibiotic and either got well or died. This kept on evolving the same way, catching people’s attention as if it were to reverse all the health problems there are, in short, being a cure-all model. However, it fails miserably when it comes to curing lifestyle driven diseases such as diabetes or obesity.
- Low quality primary care
Chronic diseases are difficult to manage and require special attention. In a hospital set up, a doctor typically has to deal over hundreds of patients on a daily basis. If a patient has multiple chronic conditions, is taking several medications, and presents with new symptoms, it is nearly impossible to provide quality care during that 5-minute visit.
- Unsustainable treatment quality
Statins are widely prescribed to lower “risk” and “risk factors” that are involved in heart disease. But do these liver-toxic drugs hold demonstrable therapeutic potential? Not so much. Same with other medications, most of them only suppress the symptoms simultaneously causing liver and kidney damage
- Very less emphasis on diet and lifestyle changes
The risk factors of chronic diseases boil down to people making wrong choices about diet, physical activity, sleep, stress management, etc.—over and over again, throughout a lifetime. As it works, once a disease is identified, medications are prescribed as a treatment strategy. There is hardly any time or attention that is given to discussing diet and lifestyle that might be contributing to the existing problem. Besides, nutritional deficiencies, toxins, heavy metals, antinutrients, food contamination, lack of sleep and other major drivers of poor health and disease are also not addressed in the conventional medicine treatment strategy.
- A mechanistic approach
Conventional medicine does not see an individual human as a whole and thus does not consider his/her physical, psychological, social and spiritual make-up.The patient presents his body to the doctor as he would his watch to a watchmaker or his car to a mechanic so the expert can fix, add, remove, replace, tighten, loosen,adjust or recharge whatever piece needs work so that the machine functions as it should.
- Too much reliance on scientific methods/knowledge
Conventional medicine firmly believes that, apart from scientific knowledge, no other form of knowledge is valid because only scientific knowledge is true and real. In contrast, traditional medicine is the fruit of hundreds of years of observation by hundreds of practitioners helping thousands of patients in actual life situations.
- High dependency and prescription of medications (drugs, pills)
The conventional medical system is designed to keep you on pills, very expensive pills, as if the economy needs you to be sick, to stay on these pills so that Big Pharma executives can get filthy rich.
- Lack of transparency
Ever tried finding prices for the various healthcare services provided by the hospitals or their performance reviews? Such information is only available for automobiles, hotels and so on. This lack of transparency is one of the important things for conventional medicine to be questioned for. Doctors are often indemnified from health issues arising due to malpractices in patient care. Besides which iatrogenic deaths ( aka deaths caused by medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of deaths in hospitalized patients). It’s not surprising that even with the Covid-19 plandemic, patients that self-isolated and home quarantined themselves had much better outcomes than the ones that got hospitalized and were put on ventilators and experimental drugs
This is a gap that Functional medicine and Functional nutrition fills in beautifully. We aim at addressing the imbalances in the body by restoring function through food, lifestyle and supplement interventions. We transform dysfunctioning bodily systems into optimal, functional healthy systems which is the only permanent and sustainable solution.