Allopathic Medicine or Curing versus Alternative and Complimentary Medicine or Integrative Care and Healing
One can be cured without being healed and vice versa.
Patients who do not attend to their psycho-socio-spiritual maladies may be cured from one condition only to suffer another. Shamans believe that "dis" - ease often leads to disease. For this reason they strive to go to the root cause of the problem and correct it whether its a toxic relationship at home or at work or even a spiritual disorder such as an intrusive entity. It is also true that someone who has been healed is more likely to be cured since wholeness facilitates the Inner Healer.
It is unrealistic to expect your doctor to be both shaman (or "alternative") and a competent physician at the same time. It is difficult for physicians these days to be up to date with the latest methodology, grapple with the insanities of the current medical system, run a business, have a personal and family life and try and have a semblance of equanimity. Nevertheless even in the face of all these inequities some still have a decent “bed-side manner.”
This staff of Asclepius with one serpent for some represents the symbol for the medical profession rather than the more accepted Caduceus with two. The single serpent now more accurately represents the singular rise of the technological aspects of today's medicine but it was not always so when it represented healing in the Asclepian temples of old with the help of dreams.
The Caduceus is a more holistic symbol incorporating feminine and masculine, moon and sun, ying and yang, intuition and intellect, love (compassion) and ego based goal orientation, healing and curing. Unfortunately most of the medical profession has forgotten that there is a second snake.
There is no question that when it comes to true healing, the psycho-spiritual dimensions need to be attended. If we cannot get this from our doctor then we will need to go somewhere else for it. Sadly physicians are not only short on time but because of all the demands put upon them, also sometimes short on compassion. Hence patients are gravitating more and more towards alternative healers who can give them the empathy and attention that they need. However, these healers are often deficient when it comes to knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology and treatment.
It is true that the Inner Healer has immense power and can heal most things and will often do so in time. Many of the alternative healer’s results are due to this magical factor coupled with the power of placebo and maybe distant healing rather than anything else. Complimentary and alternative or integrative treatments often fall short when subjected to double-blind controlled trials. Nevertheless there have been healing miracles wrought in magical healing places and by special healers and shamans even causing spontaneous remissions of diseases not curable by Western methods and we should not lose sight of this. However, to rely on these anecdotal cases would be folly when there is usually a good allopathic option.
There is a story of a student who came to visit an enlightened master to see if he would teach him further along the path. During the student’s introduction he tells the master how he has been meditating for 10 years and that because of his diligence he is able to now walk on water. He says that he is now so skilled that he can walk across the surface of a river to the other side. The master asks him; “why have you wasted so much time when all you needed to do was take a boat?”
Western medicine is the boat that can usually, though not always, take us over to the river bank of health. When it fails us we should add other methods of curing or healing. Moreover, healing and curing are not the same and even if modern treatment has cured us we may still need to be healed by addressing a wider perspective of wholeness and health such as; job satisfaction, relationships, spiritual practice, destiny, meaning in one's life etc. For these we may have to go elsewhere for our help.