One of the most clear-cut “attack and conquer” approaches in Western medicine involves antibiotic treatment for infectious diseases. This has been a key discovery and strength of Western medicine that helped put it on the map as the primary modern healthcare modality. When it’s appropriate, antibiotic treatment for bacterial infections can be an effective and life-saving benefit. Yet, often it doesn’t work when there are viruses or other microbes involved, which is more often than not. In such cases, with insight into the causes, we can apply other treatments: there are now anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic drugs, as well as many natural remedies that can help. Most often it takes time and other healing methods to address the underlying factors. We have also been carried away with the use of antibiotics in factory farming, which can affect the health and microbial balance in the animals and then the people who consume them.
In addition to the overuse of antibiotics that appears to have helped create drug resistant “super bugs,” the modern Western world has become obsessed with anti-bacterial soaps, sprays, and such. I have never been a fan of what I call, “replacing dirt and germs with chemicals.” This has some negative consequences, especially with persistent use over time, which is the key issue with many chemicals and toxins. In this regard, I think it is good news that the FDA recently banned 19 chemicals used in antibacterial products as outlined in this NPR article.
We need to move away from “germaphobia” towards keeping our body and immune system strong while finding and using more natural disinfectants like alcohol, peroxide, bleach, grapefruit seed extract, and others.
Another area where the “attack and conquer” approach prevails is when we step into acute and crisis care, or treating advanced conditions in the hospital. Doing whatever is needed to extend life can be a costly, toxic, and very painful fight. The up side is that intensive care is very advanced these days and Western medicine can often save lives and give some people additional quality years. However, the down side is that people with advanced and serious health issues can be maintained and kept alive to suffer further, with what is often a poor quality of life. This is a serious concern within our current system especially in regard to the high costs of end-of-life care. Nowadays, individuals can decline these “life-saving” heroics and choose a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) status, and in California (and a few other states) also choose to end their life with doctors’ and hospice supervision.
In my experience, the more options and treatment programs we consider, the better choices we can make. That’s why in modern medicine, it’s ideal to encourage a more integrative approach by incorporating real “traditional medicines” (based on long-standing traditions) like those found in Natural and Eastern Medicines, which I discuss in my latest book Staying Healthy with NEW Medicine.