Traditional & Modern Medicine

The best doctor chooses what works, no matter the source.
The best doctor chooses what works, no matter the source. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Many people consider the discussion of traditional vs. modern medicine an either/or scenario, which isn't the case at all. While modern medicine has been around for just 100 years and has made an incredible impact, traditional methods of healing have been helping people with disease and ailments cope with their conditions for thousands of years. The choice of whether to pursue a traditional or modern approach when dealing with a health condition is a highly personal decision and should be made only after gaining a solid understanding of their differences.


As one of the oldest and most creative cultures, China has practiced traditional healing methods for thousands of years, a span of time that has allowed for the creation of a large body of healing literature. Still, traditional healing has grown much along cultural lines as practitioners have made use of the plants, animals, and mineral substances available in their own region to treat illness. In general, one could describe a traditional healing approach as a noninvasive, natural method of addressing malfunctions in the body.

Modern Medicine

As mentioned, modern medicine has been with us for a little more than 100 years and during that time has eradicated, for all practical purposes, deadly and crippling diseases like smallpox, whooping cough, and others. Modern medicine is an entirely scientific approach to healing based upon creating synthesized medicines to treat disease, and developing invasive surgical procedures to address a variety of conditions.


As modern medicine was coming into its own, it seemed as though the miracles would never stop, but we began to see that our understanding and implementation of science wasn't perfect. Some healing medicines came with horrific side effects. Surgical procedures didn't work in every case. Beginning in the 1980s, certain segments of the population begin to drift away from enthusiastically embracing everything about modern medicine and traced a slow return to traditional medicine.


We have entered a time of blended medicine, which is an approach that makes use of the best of both traditional and modern approaches in treating illness and disease. For years, modern doctors reviled traditional practitioners and vice versa, an approach that limited a patient's choice to half of what was available. The two sides seem to be drifting toward a blended medical environment that draws upon the history of the tradition and the startling breakthroughs of science.

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