Webster defines orthodox as “adhering to what is commonly accepted, customary, or traditional.” Today, 36 U.S. teaching hospitals are pushing the orthodox envelope to blend complimentary medicine with traditional care. No longer treated like unwanted relatives, this is the largest growing area of medicine. Hundreds of thousands of scientific studies are published annually, with millions of people receiving such treatments for back and neck pain, common colds, anxiety, depression and even cancer.
Therapies are termed Complementary when used in addition to “conventional” treatments and Alternative when used instead of “conventional” treatment. If that isn’t sufficiently unclear, either category may include nutritional, holistic, naturopathic, chiropractic, acupuncture, herbal and other forms of medicine. Commonly labeled “unconventional” or “unorthodox” by the conservative mainstream, are these approaches valid?
“Instead of wholesome foods and natural supplements, we have only drug studies paid for by the drug companies. Big pharma spends tens of thousands of dollars per doctor and $1.8 billion on public advertising to ensure their market is maintained.” answers Conrad Maulfair, DO at a recent Integrated Medicine conference. “Opinion and economic interests have fashioned what is considered acceptable medical practice.”
And so history repeats. Consider Claudius Galen, a Greek doctor who lived in the second century AD, Galen spent his lifetime in observation of the human body and its functioning. He performed extensive research and dissections to better understand the functions of the body. After he died, serious anatomical and physiological research ground to a halt. Orthodox medicine believed that everything there was to be said on the subject had been said. Although very enlightened for his time, Galen made certain serious mistakes – mistaken ideas which medical experts upheld centuries.
For nearly 1400 years, orthodox medical experts followed Galen’s teachings that “the tides of the blood” sloshed back and forth through the body, passing through the heart, where it was mixed with air, by pores in the septum. The lungs were responsible for moving the blood around the body. In 1628 William Harvey, an English doctor and researcher, published his findings that the heart, not the lungs, circulated the blood through a closed system of veins and arteries. His research notes first show this finding as early as 1615. Although a respected member of the Royal Medical Academy, Harvey waited 13 years, until 1628, to publish his findings. He closes his findings with the statement “Farewell, most worthy Doctors, and think kindly of your Anatomist.” His findings were never accepted during his lifetime, rather he was broadly attacked.
Why on Earth did the Galenic model last almost 1,400 years? It was obviously baseless. Many anatomists, including the great Leonardo da Vinci, Andreas Vesalius a respected Belgian anatomist, and others had failed to find holes in the intraventricular septum for well over 200 years before Harvey. In fact, it seems certain that these were never even found by Galen; these “anomalies,” however, did not seem to trouble the faithful! No one dared challenge popular opinion.
One important school of thought has withstood centuries of research. Considered the Father of Medicine, Hippocrates of Cos II made lasting contributions. The Hippocratic school held that all illness was the result of an imbalance in the body. When the four humours, blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm, were not in balance, a person would become sick and remain that way until the balance was somehow restored. Hippocrates or his students hold the earliest recorded use of vitamin C (citrus) to address the common cold.
Today, an integrated, holistic approach to healing recognizes that the emotional, mental, spiritual and physical elements of each person comprise a system. Working with this systems approach, Dr. Maulfair treats the cause of an illness rather than just the symptoms. Services at Maulfair Medical Center focus on integrating complimentary and alternative medical approaches, rather than drug-oriented medicine with its emphasis on pharmaceutical drugs. Clients of Maulfair Medical Center’s comprehensive programs regain their quality of life by restoring their health balance.
Conrad G Maulfair Jr, DO