Health

5 Key Characteristics that Define Allopathic Medicine

During a recent visit to my GP, I noticed some of the other doctors in her building were listed on the directory as allopaths. Designating themselves as such was a way to let visitors know they practice allopathic medicine. That got me wondering about how many people really know what an allopathic practitioner is, especially since my doctor is more likely to take a holistic approach to medicine.

 

Below are five key characteristics that define allopathic medicine. If you are like most people, the only type of healthcare you have ever experienced is allopathic in nature. Most Western practices are allopathically based.

 

1. Evidence-Based

 

The first key characteristic defining allopathic medicine is that it is evidence-based. More specifically, the evidence that drives allopathic decisions is clinical evidence produced by way of controlled studies. Allopathic medicine tends to dismiss anecdotal evidence as being unscientific.

 

Holistic practitioners do not automatically dismiss clinical evidence. But they are willing to give equal weight to anecdotal evidence and historical precedent. That is why holistic practitioners are willing to look at the way ancient cultures used medicine long before clinical studies were being conducted.

 

2. A Focus on Symptoms and Conditions

 

Next up is a focus on symptoms and conditions. Take diabetes as an example. Allopathic care would focus on two things: managing the biological aspects of the disease and helping alleviate the symptoms. It sounds completely reasonable. Right?

 

A holistic practitioner also addresses the condition and its symptoms. But she goes beyond to also look at the psychological, emotional, and social aspects with the goal of treating the whole person.

 

3. And Emphasis on Traditional Interventions

 

Allopathic medicine emphasizes traditional interventions. These include things like prescription drugs, surgical procedures, and conventional therapies (physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc.). The primary goal is to address symptoms.

 

This may be the biggest difference between allopathic and holistic medicine. As explained by the practitioners at Utah-based KindlyMD, the holistic approach embraces nontraditional interventions as well. A holistic practitioner is more likely to adopt a complete care philosophy that includes things like plant-based medicines.

 

4. Reliance on FDA Approved Interventions

 

Taking the traditional intervention idea a bit further, allopathic medicine prefers FDA approved interventions over everything else. This focus is rooted in the understanding that it can take a decade or more to gain FDA approval for a drug, procedure, or medical device. Getting approval also requires several rounds of clinical testing to prove safety and efficacy.

 

This is not necessarily a bad approach. FDA approval does have its merits. But holistic practitioners also see value in considering a treatment’s historical use. For example, certain plant-based medicines date back as far as ancient China and Egypt. Thousands of years of successful historical use carries equal weight to a holistic practitioner.

 

5. An Emphasis on Specialties and Advanced Degrees

 

Finally, allopathic medicine emphasizes specialized education. Clinicians start out as medical doctors (MDs) before going on to receive additional training in a particular specialty. Some settle in as GPs while others go on to be cardiologists, neurologists, oncologists, etc.

 

Holistic medicine can and does utilize doctors with specialized training. But there is less emphasis on specialties and more emphasis on treating the whole person in body, mind, and spirit. There is less room for specialization in holistic medicine because practitioners do not address just the physical alone.

 

None of this is to say that either form of medicine is better than the other. I personally prefer the holistic approach to healthcare. But I do recognize that allopathic medicine is a legitimate option that works for others. That’s okay. Choices in healthcare are good.

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