his question deserves revisiting and updating from time to time, particularly for those who are not familiar with the fundamental differences or the confusing terminology that seems to expand continuously.
Allopathic Medicine, also referred to as scientific
medicine, is the type of medicine practiced in the US by physicians who have
the initials MD after their name. The majority of medical schools in the
US and Canada are allopathic medical schools, though the term allopathy (Gr. allos
~ against, and pathy ~ disease) is rarely used, only appearing in
medical documents. The initials MD stand for the Latin Medicinae Doctoris,
which appears on the diplomas of US medical (allopathic) schools. There are 129
accredited MD degree-granting medical schools in the US and 17 in Canadaall
represented by the Association of American Medical Colleges (1).
Osteopathic Medicine is the closest to allopathic
medicine, though osteopathy is based on the belief of its founder, Andrew
Taylor Still, that most diseases are related to problems in the musculoskeletal
system (bones, muscles, and nerves). The founder of osteopathy devised and
taught manual manipulations to restore proper musculoskeletal function that are
still taught and used. Otherwise, MDs and DOs in the US practice medicine the
same way. There are 24 osteopathic medical schools in the US (2) that grant a DO
(Doctor of Osteopathy) degree. MDs and DOs are equally recognized by the various
US certifying Boards of medical specialties and subspecialties upon successful
completion of the appropriate examinations.
is the general title given in the US to the type of medicine practiced by MDs
and DOs and their allied health professionals, such as nurse practitioners,
physician assistants, registered nurses, physical therapists, psychologists,
dietitians, speech, occupational, and other certified therapists. |
Homeopathic Medicine is the product of the
observations and theories of the German physician Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843),
founder of homeopathy. Homeopathy is a method of treating diseases or symptoms
by administering infinitely diluted natural compounds in the smallest amounts
that would bring about or mimic the patient's symptoms. This is referred to as
the Law of Similars ("like cures like"). Critical examination of homeopathic
products finds that these infinite dilutions of the purported substances have
no detectable active products. Advocates have proposed the "memory of water"
theory, whereby, for example, the structure of a water-alcohol solution altered
in the process of dilution still retains curative properties, even after none
of the actual substance remains. All homeopathic remedies are made of naturally
occurring plant, animal, or mineral substances. Homeopathy is practiced
worldwide, including the US. (3), (4).
Naturopathic Medicine, also called naturopathy, deals
with nutrition, botanical medicine, hydrotherapy, psychology, and counseling
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) relies primarily
on the use of herbs and acupuncture. Acupuncture has gained full acceptance by
the Western medical community, particularly the specialty of anesthesiology
(6). In addition, trigger point therapy for relief of pain arising from
specific definable musculo-skeletal areas has a correspondence of approximately
90% with classic acupuncture sites (J. of Alternative and Complementary
Therapy, May 10, 2008, Mayo Clinic).
Traditional Hindu Medicine (THM), also known as Ayurveda,
is the ancient Hindu science of health and medicine in which diseases
result from disharmony between the person and the environment (7). Beneficial
effects of yoga and meditation are regularly reported by those who practice
them regularly; both have become integral parts of most comprehensive
Chiropractic practitioners are not medical providers.
Under current law, chiropractors are considered "limited providers" (8) (9)
(10) who perform spinal "manipulations" and "adjustments" to correct vertebral
column misalignments referred to as "subluxations." This is an area of
controversy, since conventional medicine defines subluxation as a partial
dislocation of a joint structure for which any "adjustment" or "manipulation"
would be strictly contraindicated. In addition to "spinal manipulations",
chiropractors prescribe nutritional products, homeopathic products, and various
types of physical therapy. For an in-depth look at this practice, refer to (7)
|Complementary Medicine and Alternative Medicine
(CAM)refers to a group of diverse health related practices and
products that are not, per se, currently considered to be part of conventional medicine (see above)(9). Specifically:
Integrative or Integrated Medicine
combines treatment modalities from conventional medicine and CAM
for which there is at least some evidence of safety and effectiveness.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) maintains a National
Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (11)
that provides information on this subject.
Mind-Body Medicine is associated with the pioneering work
and the writings of Dr. Herbert Benson, a Harvard-trained American cardiologist
who is currently the Director Emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute (BHI), the
Mind/Body Medical Institute at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard
Medical School. His early work was captured in the 1975 best-selling book, The
Relaxation Response (15). The body's response to acute stress has been
traditionally referred to as a "fight-or-flight response" which results in a
cascade of biochemical events led by the release of adrenaline and a
predictable cardiovascular response. The perception of chronic stress, however,
is difficult to assess until some catastrophic event like a heart attack or
cancer occurs. Through the process of rehabilitation one can learn to recognize
stress and work through a relaxation response, where all systems reach a steady
state that promotes healing and well-being (12). Dr. Benson's clinical
is extensive and crosses over into spirituality and mysticism, as his
bibliography shows (13).
Personalized Medicinealso called genome-based or
genomic medicine (16) (17) is the most recent healthcare concept being
talked about in medical circles. The basic premise is that a person's genomic
information can be used to determine the kinds of treatments most beneficial to
a particular personbe they preventive measures before a disease presents or
actual therapy for an existing condition. Genetics is the study of heredity and
genetic medicine, it examines the role of individual genes as they relate to
biology and medicine. Genomic medicine makes use of our own personal (thus the
name, personalized medicine) genome, our individual genetic
structure encoded by the nucleotide sequences, etc to determine individual
vulnerability to disease and responsiveness to medication. Medications
have traditionally been prescribed only after clinical trials show benefits.
After that, individual physicians decide on the usefulness, or lack thereof, of
the medication for their own patients. If a particular medication doesn't work,
another will be tried. Via the use of genomic information, specific responses
to treatment can be predicted by identifying the specific genomic information
involved in the biology of the disease (see illustration below).
There are still many ethical, legal, financial and social
questions to be answered regarding genomic medicine.
Concierge medicinealso known as boutique medicine,
retainer medicine, platinum practice or executive health plansis an
arrangement between physicians and a limited group of patients wherein, for a
fixed annual fee, these practices offer special amenities and services not now
provided by most medical practices. These include nicer, less crowded reception
areas, priority same day, guaranteed next day, extended appointments, home
access, cell phone access and a 24-hr pager to the physician, Also, telephone
and email consultations, free check ups, preventive care, weight loss,
nutrition, wellness advice. It is possible to maintain coverage from Medicare
and other third party payors while participating in these arrangements that do
not include major diagnostic or interventional procedures as well as
News Digest, Feb 2004