Approaches to medicine

Western science is approaching a paradigm shift of unprecedented proportions, one that will change our concepts of reality and of human nature, bridge the gap between ancient wisdom and modern science,

and reconcile the differences between Eastern spirituality and Western pragmatism.

Stanislav Grof


In the UK, most will be familiar with modern medicine, that is, what we get if we go to the National Health Service (NHS) and that medical professionals will frequently talk about levels of care. They're divided into the categories of primary care, secondary care, tertiary care, and quaternary care. Each level refers to the complexity of the medical cases being treated as well as the skills and specialties of the providers.


Primary Care Essentials

Most people are familiar with primary care. This is your first and

most generalised stop for symptoms and medical concerns eg when

you see your primary care doctor when you notice a new symptom

or are concerned that you contracted a cold, the flu, or some other

bacterial or viral disease. You may also seek out primary care for a

broken bone, a sore muscle, a skin rash, or other acute medical

problem. You general practitioner, GP, is typically responsible for

coordinating your care among specialists and other levels of care.


Secondary Care Specialists

When your primary care provider ie your GP, refers you to a

specialist, you are then in secondary care. Secondary care simply

means you will be taken care of by someone who has more specific

expertise in what is ailing you. Specialists focus either on a specific

system of the body or a specific disease or condition eg cardiologists focus on the heart and its pumping system, endocrinologists focus on hormone systems and some specialise in diseases like diabetes or thyroid disease. Oncologists have a specialty in treating cancers and some specialise on a specific type of cancer.


Tertiary Care and Hospitalisation

Once a patient is hospitalised and needs a higher level of specialty care within a hospital, he may be referred to tertiary care which requires highly specialised equipment and expertise eg procedures such as coronary artery bypass surgery, renal or hemodialysis, and some plastic surgeries or neurosurgeries, severe burn treatments and other very complex treatments or procedures. A small, local hospital may not be able to provide these services, so you may need to be transferred to a medical centre that provides highly specialised tertiary level services.


Quaternary Care Uncommon and Highly Specialised

Quaternary care is considered to be an extension of tertiary care and is even more specialised and highly unusual perhaps why we seldom hear of it.  Not every hospital offers quaternary care such as experimental medicine and procedures which are highly uncommon or require specialised surgeries.


Within the above, the practice is one of Conventional medicine – sometimes referred to as orthodox medicine, allopathic medicine, biomedicine, Western medicine; it refers to the medical model of evidence-based practice for diagnosing and treating disease most commonly used by practitioners in mainstream medicine in the UK eg the NHS.


Conventional medicine applies to the medicine that graduates of traditional medical schools and residencies prescribe to.  It involves regular medical doctors, pharmaceuticals and general medical practices such as cardiology, gastroenterology, psychiatry. It is a system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using  the three main approaches available to them - drugs, radiation, or surgery. The training of such medical staff is in the standard model of care which is to diagnose a disease and match that disease with a corresponding drug.


The standard model of care works well for acute diseases, trauma, infection, and emergencies and for that I have cause to give thanks. Sadly, however, it fails miserably in the care of chronic diseases  (of which I am too well-aware) - such as allergic, digestive, hormonal, metabolic, diabetic, and neurological problems – which many suffer from on a daily basis and in the absence of help from conventional medicine, turn for and self-pay for solutions in the field of Alternative, Complimentary and Alternative, Functional Medicine, Integrative Medicine.


You  will find those such as  Science-Based Medicine will often describe “integrative medicine” as integrating quackery with medicine. 


All I know is that over the years, I have been poorly served by the NHS (except in

emergencies) in the treatment of chronic conditions. Doctors have insufficient time

(roughly ten minutes) for a consultation, insufficient time in which to explain my

signs, symptoms, and experiences let alone my relevant lifestyle issues and am offered

treatments for symptoms not of causes, treatments which simply allow me to manage

a condition and do not treat me back to the creation of better health.


So, when something does not work, I will seek out, whatever you choose to call it, an

approach that offers me hope and better health. And not all of us who criticise the

NHS paradigm are uninformed scientists; many are the number of doctors, increasing

in number, who advocate for a different paradigm. 

As the video opposite reveals, we cannot believe everything we are told by scientists and doctors.


You should do your own research, ask your own questions, not be blinded by so-called science, and reach your own conclusions.


Here then are some other approaches you may find.


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) refers to a wide range of therapies and practices that are outside mainstream medicine and include:-


Traditional alternative medicine - alternative medicine includes treatments not currently considered part of evidence-based Western medicine

as well as



Chinese or Oriental medicine sometimes known as TCM (traditional Chinese Medicine)

Homeopathy  (but please see the British Homeopathic Association for homeopathy available through the NHS)





Body therapies


Body movement therapies

Chiropractic and osteopathic medicine


Tai chi



Diet and herbs


Dietary supplements

Herbal medicine

Nutrition or diet


External energy


Electromagnetic therapy













Art, dance, and music

Visualization and guided imagery

In some settings you may find that complementary medicine is used alongside conventional medicine.  As medicine evolves, some practices that are considered complementary and / or alternative may become a part of conventional medicine and will no longer be considered alternative.


Alternative and complementary medicine or therapies aren’t always totally separate. For this reason, the term ‘complementary and alternative medicine’ (or CAM) is now widely used to include both approaches.


Functional medicine – is said often to be the future model of medicine but is presently largely unknown by the public in the UK; in Scotland I can find one practitioner whereas in the USA there are hundreds. I think it is only a matter of time before it is more widespread in the UK. FM is an individualised, patient-centred, science-based approach that empowers patients and practitioners to work together to address the underlying causes of disease and promote optimal wellness. It requires a detailed understanding of each patient’s genetic, biochemical, and lifestyle factors and employs that data to direct personalised treatment plans that lead to improved patient outcomes.


By addressing root cause, rather than just treat symptoms, practitioners become oriented to identifying the complexity of disease. They may find one condition has many different causes and, likewise, one cause may result in many different conditions. As a result, Functional Medicine treatment targets the specific manifestations of disease in each individual.


 ‘Integrated’ medicine means that conventional, complementary and alternative therapies, and sometimes functional medicine, are brought together; this is certainly the case in the USA  where some 42 percent of all hospitals in the U.S. now offer non-conventional medical services. The goal is to make patients feel better through natural methods such as changes in lifestyle, diet, natural herbs, vitamin supplements, meditation, self-hypnosis, acupuncture, and other modalities that do not have the serious side effects of prescription drugs or invasive surgical procedures typically used in conventional medicine.

I have no figures for Scotland or the UK.


Whether you call it complementary, alternative, or integrative treatment, overall, 38 percent of all adult Americans use some type of alternative therapy. Again I have no official figure for the UK but anecdotally, talking with consultants and oncologists, some tell me in whispered tones that up to 30% of their patients claim to use functional / integrated / CAM approaches but the difference is, patients can not do so with the blessing of the official conventional system.


As an elderly person living with some 12 different conditions, I have not found the NHS able to offer anything other than treatment for symptoms, and in most cases, that treatment is not only ineffective, it causes side-effects and other problems.


Only by finding my own way through  the maze of CAM, alternative, functional, integrative approaches, at great cost to myself, have I found help and betterment. Would it not make more sense, and be safer, to have a unified health service that brought the best of all approaches under one roof?

8 Simple Rules for Life

1. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Never beat yourself up. “You are doing the best you can with the knowledge, awareness, experience, and resources you have. When you know differently you can be and behave differently.” Louise L Hay

2. Love others. Be kind to others. Know that they too are doing the best they can with the knowledge, awareness, experience, and resources they have. When they know differently they too can be and behave differently.

3. Be willing to ease up, let go and FORGIVE - forgive yourself and forgive others. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” The Christian Bible - John 8:7

4. Let go of how you think your life should be, and embrace the life that is trying to work its way into and through your consciousness.

5. Cease judging yourself and others. ““Live one day at a time. Keep your attention in present time. Have no expectations. Make no judgements. And give up the need to know why things happen as they do. Give it up!” Caroline Myss

6. Never stop growing and striving for more from yourself, of learning and being willing to change the way you learn.

7. SMILE! Smile at everyone you meet or pass today. “Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”  ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

8. Remember, it’s all working out as it’s supposed to.