Medical Philosophy and Terminology

Dr. Paul McCutcheon, East York Animal Clinic

Conventional/Mainstream  Holistic/Alternative/Complimentary - Integrative

What do these mean?

Conventional or Mainstream: Medical approaches have been dominant over the last hundred years – especially in North America.  The philosophy is based on waiting for symptoms to occur and through pharmaceutical or surgical intervention, attempt to reverse those symptoms.  For example, therapy for an inflamed joint is an anti-inflammatory drug.  If an infection is present, an antibiotic drug is employed.  There is no doubt that this approach can be necessary, especially in acute situations, but the question must be asked – do these procedures cure or palliate?

Holistic/Alternative/Complementary Approach: based on many centuries of wisdom.  The philosophy embodies the understanding that symptoms portrayed are not the real problem, but manifestations of imbalances in the body. 

The preeminent therapy is to support and encourage the balance that will prevent the symptoms from occurring.  When symptoms do occur, therapy is directed toward rebalancing the body.  The symptoms are the assessment benchmarks.  When balance has been achieved, the symptoms will resolve.  Therapy is directed toward harmonizing the body – not simply reversing symptoms.

The terms alternative and complimentary are concocted expressions used to identify philosophy opposed to the conventional/mainstream genre.  The terms are designed to place holistic philosophy in a subordinated and demeaning venue, creating a “them vs. us” mentality.  I prefer the term “holistic,” which approaches the whole body as opposed to considering only its parts.  For example, a failing kidney is not isolated in its degeneration, but part of an imbalance involving the entire body.

The term “Integrative” encompasses the application of holistic philosophy.  We have an integrative practice.  We do not designate diagnostic or therapeutic procedures as being conventional or holistic.  We are open to any procedure that will achieve desired success, but it will always be done within the context of holistic philosophy.  The emphasis is encouraging body harmony, not simply providing symptomatic relief.

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