One claim often made about complimentary or alternative medicine is that it treats the 'whole person' rather than just symptoms. Leaving aside the fact that conventional medicine (you know, actual real medicine) is about interpreting symptoms in order to find and treat the underlying causes, there is a very good reason why this claim is bunk: none of the non-sentient entities within the process, whether they are acting for better or worse, is aware that there is a 'whole person' to treat.
Neither the active ingredients, the passive ingredients people like to believe are active, or the complete lack of ingredients in homoeopathic remedies know a damn thing about human beings. All they can do is react as they always do when in contact with other substances, whether inside or outside a patient. They do not magically transform into those whizzing brightly-coloured, perfectly targeted balls of healing you see on adverts merely by having a label stuck on them. Medicines, conventional or otherwise, are just stuff.
For the same reason, the division between effects and side-effects depends entirely on what it is you're hoping to achieve by using a particular substance. It is highly unlikely that anything you put in your system - even something as pure, natural, organic and additive-free as water - will have only one effect. Oh, and 'good' and 'bad' bacteria are not classifications known to natural history, and no kitchen cleaner will be able to distinguish between them.
Fortunately for the sellers of alternative medicines, people don't like to be reminded that they're essentially a bunch of cells and chemical reactions which by chance have got themselves into jeans and t-shirt. We can feel that we're a whole person, when we're ill then our whole person feels ill, and we naturally want something which will make the whole of us healthy. We want to feel that we're balanced, detoxed, vitamin-rich and with our glowing natural-immunity shield at full power. We especially don't want someone to tell us the inconvenient truth that bits of us are going to deteriorate, no matter what we do, and that we just have to make the best of what's left.
Alternative medicine can sell its customers a more pleasant image of themselves, but nothing can make that a reality.
I finished! So, er, what now?
3 years ago