Ask RC: What are your thoughts on alternative medicine?

The medical profession suffers from undue honor, and unwarranted suspicion. There are those, both patients and some medical professionals themselves, that mistake their great training with omniscience, their great skills with omnipotence. Much of this is driven by modernist presumption, the dual silly notions that man is a simple machine and that simple men can operate the machine well. The human body is knit together by God and is grand and mysterious. If technology is the god who limps, such proud doctors are just broken crutches.

On the other hand, doctors, as a profession, are not all evil conspirators or ignorant rubes who just are just too blind to see the magic healing power of: insert-home-remedy-here. Because homeschooling families as a general rule tend toward self-sufficiency and away from dependence on experts, many of them think a good root cellar and the chapters on medicine in the Foxfire books are all we really need. We think we can defeat the willful pride of some in the medical profession with our own willful pride. That’s bad medicine.

Doctors who think too highly of themselves will tend to look for technological, typically pharmacological solutions to what ails us. Alternative medicine, on the other hand, will tend toward a greater faith in the body’s own healing powers, and seek to tap into those powers. I’m sympathetic to thinking in that direction. Whether it is a nagging cough, a dripping pipe under the sink, or a sputtering exhaust in my truck, my first, natural response is always, “Leave it alone and eventually it will take care of itself.” It drives my dear wife crazy. Trouble is, sometimes a nagging cough is lung cancer, a dripping pipe is eating away at the house’s foundation, and the exhaust is leaking carbon monoxide into the cab. That’s when you want a doctor, a plumber, and a mechanic, not someone who learned their craft from their up-line in their herbal network marketing program.

I never want to discount the experiences others have had with alternative medicine. I am happy to hear about how people are made better, and to believe that there are many good men and women outside the establishment that want to help and are able to do so. Yay and amen to people getting better without the blessing of the AMA. All I ask of those in the alternative medicine cage stage is that they afford me the same honor. I’ve had my own experience as well. The traditional doctor who has cared for my family for the past fifteen years is literally one of the finest men I know. He is caring, thoughtful, gifted, humble, and the loving homeschooling father of eight. He’s far too aware of his own limitations to buy into modernist notions of the doctor as god. He knows the best thing he can do for any of his patients is what we can all do, pray to the Great Physician. We trust him, not because he is a doctor, but because he trusts Him. Moderation then is what is called for. It’s good for what ails us.