Non-Conventional Approaches to medicine

We need a change in the present paradigm of health and not continue just to plough money into the NHS

without asking the present model is any longer appropriate. It is not just about human resources, the

number of bodies that are filled. It is about the system the professionals are being asked to implement.

Doctors in the NHS are obsessed with symptoms, trying to manipulate them by prescribing medication

rather than ascertaining the causes and origins of the sign, symptoms, or disease.

All that our health services have to offer are medications, surgery, or some form of radiation. The focus is

on the eradication or management of the symptom with no effort to find and treat the root cause and

treat that. There is little attention on the creation of health. Effectively we have a disease management

service, not a health service.

(I am aware that A&E, Accident and Emergency do great life-saving things but effectively they are also

dealing with the signs and symptoms they have in front of them and getting you back to how you were

but it is still not about the creation of health.)

One of the biggest problems in traditional, conventional, allopathic medicine today is that doctors don’t train in nutrition or physical fitness, yet glibly trot out the phrase, “eat less, walk more.” Based on what? These two factors are arguably the most important components to preventing disease yet the lack of fundamental health knowledge by doctors typically leads to the broad application of using medicines to treat symptoms – i.e.

•           Pain medications to treat arthritis, headaches, and other pain based diseases

•           Immune suppressing drugs in the case of autoimmune diseases like lupus and RA.

•           Headache medications

•           Antacids to treat GERD (acid reflux)

•           Antibiotics to treat skin inflammation

•           Hormones to treat diabetes, thyroid problems, Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), or                                Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)


This approach can be dangerous for several reasons.  Using medicine simply to mask or eradicate symptoms does not lead to resolution of the cause of disease. Masking symptoms or making them disappear, leads to a complacent patient while allowing the underlying disease process to continue undetected and unabated.  In essence, the disease process goes unchecked leading to future complications.  Using medications can lead to drug induced nutritional deficiencies and in some cases with some medications and treatment, a huge array of side effects, often requiring additional medication.  Using medications comes with the potential of creating “side effects” that either cause additional problems, or lead to adding even more medication to “treat the side effects”.  A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found traditional medical care to be the third leading cause of death in the US.

In essence, mainstream, traditional medicine has become drug centred with drugs prescribed to get rid only of symptoms without concern that the root cause of is still creating damage. It is not about creating health.

Drug companies have a huge influence over what is being taught in medical schools.  And drug companies are allowed to advertise to us directly, hugely influencing, subliminally, our views on medicine.  Both of these practices are extremely unethical with obvious conflict of interests, and can lead to numerous problems.

Doctors shun, at times ridicule, complementary and alternative approaches, natural medicine and functional medicine, which are often less expensive and more effective treatments.

Functional Medicine (FM), sometimes referred to as functional nutrition, is a

form of personalised health care that focuses on identifying nutritional, diet,

exercise, and other lifestyle factors that can be changed to improve overall health

and wellness.


Someone with a diabetes type 2 diagnosis will, in the NHS, simply be monitored,

their “disease” managed, their glucose counts assessed, and words of doom about

how the disease will progress are given. There are no words of hope or how to

create health, and yet, with functional medicine, and other natural approaches,

it is known, even by doctors within the NHS, that diabetes can be reversed by

making nutritional and lifestyle changes.


In essence, functional medicine is not traditional medicine.  No medications,

controlled substances, drugs, surgeries, injections, etc are used.  Functional

medicine is a true partnership between the patient and the practitioner,

consultations are more than the  NHS ten minute one item per consultation

approach.  Presenting issues are dealt with holistically. But above all, the goal

of this partnership is to bring the patient back to health by identifying what

lifestyle factors should be changed based on the unique circumstances of the

individual and from there, the creation of health begins. 


Why are we wasting so much money and resource in the NHS on a system or

paradigm that frankly offers little and is so limited (surgery, medication, and

radiation) which is so not appropriate in the creation of health, nor working?

Why are so many sick people constantly going back to doctors for repeat visits?

Could it be because doctors deal only with symptoms and not the causes of

symptom or disease?

Many men with diabetes will have, at some type, penile thrush. They will be given cream. The thrush will go – for a while, and then return. Only when it is dealt with by eliminating sugar in the diet, will it disappear naturally.

Other paradigms you may find by name are


Alternative medicine

CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine)

Complementary medicine

FM - functional medicine

Holistic medicine

Integrative medicine

Lifestyle medicine

Natural medicine

Naturopathic medicine

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)


Many practices within all of the above titles could usefully be integrated into what the NHS offers – the bio-medical model of conventional medicine - but the mindset at present within the NHS and Governments is one of a closed mind, even although those practices with a proven track record could help patients and reduce the NHS budget. Why do our respective Governments, The UK, the Scottish, the devolved Governments of  Northern Ireland and Wales, constantly and continuously plough money into a medical paradigm, the NHS, that is limited and dysfunctional, that is in severe need of a prescription for its own healing?

The Uniqueness of YOU the Patient


Most philosophies or paradigms recognise that each patient is a unique

individual with a unique set of genetics and biochemistry, as well as a

unique set of environmental and lifestyle factors, a unique life.  The

NHS likes to pretend that it is patient centred but given the limited

time doctors have to engage with patients, it cannot be patient centred.

Genetic/environment/lifestyle discussions are complex, not simple. 

For example, two people could potentially have the same health issues

with a completely different set of causes.  Because of this, the approach

of functional medicine is to identify how a person’s genetics are at

odds with their environment so that they can be educated on how to

restore this balance with lifestyle interventions.  Some of the 

components of the “other” medicine approaches include:

  • Taking time to truly listen to the patient

  • Being educated in Biochemistry ie Nutrition (vitamins, minerals,                                                                                                                            water, etc) food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities

  • Paying attention to lifestyle factors

  • Taking the initiative eg if a patient is 20 pounds overweight,                                                                                                                                          causing excessive pressure on heart, blood vessels, joints, and more,                                                                                                                            then finding out the real cause of why the patient cannot lose                                                                                                                                           weight – it is not simplistically down to eating less and exercising                                                                                                                                more, it could have to do with metabolic and other organic issues.

  • Taking a comprehensive health history

  • Evaluating the patient’s lifestyle and environmental factors, their                                                                                                                      psychological and spiritual state of mind

  • Assessing the impact of stress on the patient

  • Functional outcomes based laboratory workup to identify                                                                                                                                nutritional deficiencies, toxic environmental exposures, food                                                                                                                                     allergies, and more.

  • Education based approach so that ultimately the patient is less                                                                                                                                dependent on the doctor to maintain their health.

  • Encouraging the patient in the creation of health


Be Radical - be an Agent of Change

So ask yourself, are you satisfied with the present                                                                                                                                 system, where you may have to wait two weeks for                                                                                                                                       an appointment, then pm the day up to a 50 minute                                                                                                                                wait to be seen (I know in some places you get seen                                                                                                                                     more quickly) then to have only 5 – 10 minutes                                                                                                                                      during which time the doctor takes up more of the                                                                                                                                       air space, and you exit, not having fully discussed all                                                                                                                                   your issues, with a prescription for a drug that                                                                                                                                                  probably now will cause numerous side effects?

If that is not the health service you want from your general practice,                                                                                                                                           then do something about it, make your voice known. It is not enough                                                                                                                                    to just be accepting of a dysfunctional system and sympathetic to the                                                                                                                               doctor’s plight.

Dr Mark Hyman

Functional Medicine



Lifestyle Medicine
coming to

Therapeutic approaches

The following is just a few from the vast range of complimentary approaches to healing other than conventional medicine.



Accupressure – a massage technique in which the fingertips and thumbs apply pressure on specific points along the acupuncture meridians


Acupuncture – similar to the above. Involves painless insertion of fine needles into trigger points in the skin, which stimulate the physis to focus on selected organs but with the use of needs


Alexander Technique – a means of improving movement and posture by the effective and minimal use of muscles


Aromatherapy – the use of aromatic essential oils to treat pain, inflammation and the underlying cause of many forms of ill-health


Art therapy – by using art to express their feelings, patients gain relief from pain and the tensions that increase the sensation of pain


Ayurvedic medicine – an ancient system of holistic healing originating in India. Remedies are based on diet, breathing exercises and yoga


Bach Flower Remedies – the use of infusions of different plants to treat health-threatening emotional and physical imbalances


Chiropractic – a system of manual manipulation of the spine used to relieve pain and illness throughout the body


Colour therapy – use of colour to affect a person’s mental and physical state


Dowsing, medical – the use of a pendulum to detect medical conditions and treatments – increasingly used by doctors


Feldenkrais – the system of yoga, stretching and exercise that improves one’s awareness of movement patterns and encourages the proper use of muscle groups


Healing –  forms of treatment (e.g. Faith, Reiki, Spiritual Healing) which may or may not involve hand contact with the patient and the balancing of the body’s energies


Herbal medicine – holistic system of medicine based on the healing properties of plants and outstanding in the treatment of liver disorders, including hepatitis C for which conventional medicine is sadly weak


Homeopathy – a healing system based on the belief that minute amounts of substances that cause a symptom in a healthy person will cure that same symptom in one who is ill


Hydrotherapy – a therapy based on the use of different temperatures of water and compresses


Hypnotherapy – a method of inducing a state of deep relaxation which allow the patient to take in message for new ways of behaving or being

Meditation – a system of spiritual healing in which a person learns to focus their attention and relax


Medical intuition – medical intuitives are able to read body energy and see not only current medical conditions but what has led to them. See work by Carolyn Myss


Microwave therapy – deep heat treatment in which electrodes placed on a person’s skin pass electromagnetic waves to deeper parts of the body. The heat created increases blood flow to the area and relieves joint and muscle pain


Naturopathy – often involves dieting, massage, water hydrotherapy and juicing


Nutritional therapy – the use of specific foods and food supplements to treat illness


Occupational therapy – a system of care in which trained professional devise ways for individuals to perform every day tasks


Osteopathy – a system of medical practice based on the theory that the loss of physical integrity, or form, causes illness. Treatment involves manipulation of the spine and joints, plus other therapeutic techniques.


Physiotherapy – a system of healing care in which a medical professional uses exercise to help restore movement and strength to the body


Psychic surgery – in the UK key in “Stephen Turoff” on the internet to find out more. Psychic surgery is a form of healing where the non-medically qualified “doctor” is guided by Spirit guides


Reiki  healing – a system of healing rediscovered by Dr Mikao Usui


Rolfing  - a system of healing based on deep massage intended to realign the body’s structure by strengthening the body’s connective tissue, thus improving posture and balance


Shiatsu - a system of treatment similar to acupressure, but here the therapist uses elbows, knees and feet as well as fingers and thumbs when applying pressure to the body’s meridian points


Spiritual counselling – a form of counselling with a distinctly spiritual bias – more and more people who feel a void in their lives are turning to spiritual counselling. No religion or faith is necessary


Spiritual healing – a form of “hands-off” healing where the practitioner is a conduit for healing energy drawn from a Divine source. Healing goes where it is needed


Ultrasound – the sounds waves to stimulate blood flow to an area of pain


Yoga – a holistic system of therapy, originating in India, that utilises breathing, exercises, meditation and relaxation to heal. Specific therapeutic yoga is used for clearing sinuses and bowels, sports injuries, backache, arthritis, insomnia, hypertension, bronchial asthma, panic attacks, infertility, stress, myopia, and chronic fatigue.


Zen – a system of spiritual care, based on Buddhist philosophies, that aims to integrate the mind, body and spirit in achieving a state of total fulfilment

The Future


Why continue to pay excess amounts of money into a system which fails us when it comes to chronic conditions and multiple morbidity, where doctors are not sufficiently holistically trained, (nor can they be expected to) a system in which general practitioners are given insufficient time to fully consult with their patients, and where the focus is limited to symptoms and disease management and insufficiently on finding and dealing with the root cause of medical conditions?


In part, a more modern medical paradigm  would ...


  • Move to greater emphasis on health promotion and harm and risk reduction

  • Pay more attention to root causes

  • Be less silo run and more holistic led

  • Give more time to consultations – patients would feel heard and their story, their expertise, better accounted for

  • Revise the role of the general practitioner

  • Provide health coaches and nutritionists

  • Introduce client care coordinators


  • Coach patients in life-skills

  •  Foster mindset shifts

  •  Treat Lab-Markers as results – which do not tell the full story

  • Listen more to the patient story


Examine the extent to which the following pillars need attention


Emotional impact on health

Gut health

Inflammation and infections

Lifestyle and environment

Mitochondrial function

Movement and exercise


Stress and hormones

Thoughts and thinking

Worldview and spiritual underpinning


The nay-sayers automatically say this is too expensive. Finances will always be an issue but let us at least have a vision of the best and move towards it.


If we provide a service which helps people get and stay well and therefore need less use of costly health services, might the costs not be so frightening as we are currently purporting?


If you envision the minimum, you will get the minimum.


Author Norman Vincent Peale once wrote,  “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.” If you only shoot for the stars you may stay stuck on earth.

Moon and stars.jpg