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Why Alternative Therapies...
Don't Work: Here's What
You Need to Know

By Dr. Mark Wiley, The Healthy Back Institute


Trying alternative therapies and alternative medicines is a waste of time!

It must have been 26 years ago that I had my first experience with so-called "alternative medicine." I was 13 and had been suffering chronic daily headaches and mid-back pain for half-a-dozen years. I was already seeing the best in Philadelphia's mainstream medicine, taking a plethora of prescription meds, was being put through dozens of tests, scans, protocols.... All to no avail.

My father then took me to see a chiropractor, and do you know what? Within minutes my back and neck felt so much looser! My restricted movement was returned to within normal ranges. And I also started taking supplements. Over all, it was an amazing feeling... empowering!

I went back several times that week for treatments and, at home, attempted the exercises he instructed me to do. But the pain, and my suffering, returned and continued. This is not surprising. In fact, it is a common occurrence when people try alternative therapies.

The problem is, many people turn to "alternative therapies" as a last resort. They have had little success with mainstream medicine, have become perhaps desperate, and now are expecting a miracle cure or at least a fast turn-around of their signs and symptoms.

While I served as Director of the Integrated Energy Medicine healing center in Philadelphia, I did thousands of examinations, consultations and treatments using alternative therapies and herbal medicines. I would have been delighted to offer patients both a miracle cure and fast results... if it were possible. And many times I was successful in "curing" someone in short order. But with other cases, the sheer depth, difficulty and time-line of the problem made that task impossible.

Let me explain why some patients experienced great success and why others simply had no change in signs and symptoms and found alternative therapies to be a waste of time.

In general there is a vast philosophical and procedural difference in the approaches (and results) of mainstream medicine and alternative therapies. Mainstream bio-medicine uses a disease-based model of health. That is, patients see their primary care physician when they are ill, the doctor diagnosis the illness (disease), and then prescribes a protocol of curing that disease. Often there is no cure... but pain and other signs and symptoms are controlled by prescription medication and/or invasive surgery.

Alternative therapies, on the other hand, work from a wellness model. That is, the focus is on returning the body to homeostasis (balance), and maintaining that balance to ensure good health and long life. They accomplish this proactively, through diet, exercise, mind/body techniques, herbs and supplements, massage, and so on. All are methods of alleviating pain, illness and disease by restoring balance to the body. If you have back pain and take a supplement, the pain will probably remain... for a while. But if you follow a protocol of regular supplementation with safe stretches and perhaps acupuncture or chiropractic care... the body will rebalance and the issues will resolve. But this takes time.

In a general sense many of the alternative therapies aim at rebalancing the body to restore health. Chinese medicine uses herbs to balance blood, qi, body fluids and organ function. Acupuncture uses needles to open meridian lines and correct energy imbalances. Chiropractic uses manual adjustments to realign the spine to allow correct functioning of the nervous system.

So why does the title of this articles claim that alternative therapies are a waste of time? Well, actually, they are not. But the "trying" of alternative therapies most certainly IS. You see, there is a difference between "trying" and "doing." Trying means "you didn't do" something. Let's examine some common statements I hear in my office, and what they really mean.

Statement: I tried to call you and cancel my appointment.
Translation: I did not call you.

Statement: I tried acupuncture, and it didn't help.
Translation: After a few visits I was not cured and so decided not to continue and follow the protocol to the end.

Statement: I've been really trying to eat right and do my exercises.
Translation: I eat right once in a while, and I do my corrective exercises when I remember to do them.

Trying means not doing. And if you are not fully engaged in the doing of alternative therapies... seeing them through to the end... following the protocol... doing what you have been instructed to do... then they will not "work." Not because they failed you, but because YOU failed you.

You see, the therapies themselves are not the problem (unless you have chosen to follow the wrong therapy for your health issue), and they are also not time-consuming. Rather, it is the body that takes time to "allow" the method to take hold in the body and effect change, reestablish balance. But this takes time because the body likes to stay where it is, because it requires little effort to do so. After repeated treatments, or a period of time spent doing exercises or taking herbal supplements, the body finally realizes that it is actually easier to be in a state of homeostasis (balance) than to exist in a state of imbalance. It then "lets go" of its old unhealthy holding pattern. Now it can fully embrace a healthy pattern, and positive changes take effect.

Think of it like working out at the gym. If you are out of shape and lift weights, you will be sore. But little by little you will be less sore after the exercise. If you only lift weight once in a while, their size, shape and density will not visibly change. But if you stick with it ("do" it), you will notice your body changing in positive ways. Internally this is what is happening with alternative treatment. Each day, each treatment, each bottle of herbs taken brings you one day closer to the body allowing them to take hold and the body stepping out of its own way to effect a cure.

The worst part is, people still look to alternative therapies as a last resort, and mainstream pharma drugs and surgery as a first choice. This is perverse. Using the big guns for the beginning of a problem (depending on severity) is ridiculous. You don't blow up a house to kill kitchen ants.

My feeling on maintaining a balance in health and between mainstream and alternative medicine is this:

Everyone needs to get a physical every year, including blood and urine tests. If a problem is found, they should seek alternative, non-toxic, non-invasive methods to balance the body. After a period of time, they should have more tests run to see if the problem is better or worse. If better, continue with alternative medicine. If worse, and in the red zone of health, then turn to mainstream medicine for help. Not the other way around.

As it stands, we alternative practitioners get the worst cases, and we get them after years and decades of tests and toxic drugs and surgeries have truly damaged the body. And we are left to balance these bodies, in short time, at low costs, and with high hopes.

It's time people reframe their minds on this issue. So the next time you feel un-well, seek out alternative therapies first. But you must DO it and not simply TRY it. It takes time, effort, discipline, but in the end being balanced means being healthy. And taking personal responsibility to do what needs doing — and not depend on a doctor to do it for you — is the greatest gift you could ever give yourself.

To your health!



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All material herein is provided for information only and may not be construed as personal medical advice. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The publisher is not a licensed medical care provider. The information is provided with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in the practice of medicine or any other health-care profession and does not enter into a health-care practitioner/patient relationship with its readers. The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions.

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