On a regular basis, I receive comments from both those in the traditional medical profession and also from herbalists, homeopaths and other practitioners of alternative medicine. M.D.s such as myself are known as Allopathic Physicians and learn standard medical theory and the use of modern technology and pharmaceuticals to treat illness. Alternative practitioners use herbal teas, essential oils and other substances to deal with disease. Both traditional and natural healthcare providers seem to have very polarized views on their opposite number. Allopathic physicians believe that few, if any, natural medicines have benefits for their patients. Herbalists often feel that most, if not all, traditional methods of treatment are part of a scheme on the part of physicians and pharmaceutical companies to make a buck. Both are suspicious of the other.
In a collapse situation, it is clear to me that we must use all of the tools available to us if we wish to remain healthy. Traditional M.D.s must recognize that the vast majority of their drugs and technology will be non-existent if the power goes down. Who will manufacture antibiotics and blood pressure medications? How will a physician be able to access X-rays or CAT scans in a scenario where there might not even be electricity? How will someone who has spent their career reading MRIs in a hospital radiology department be able to serve their community? With great difficulty, I would imagine.
Allopathic and Alternative Medicine
Allopathic physicians will have to learn some things they haven’t paid attention to since medical school: Hygiene, nutrition, and sanitation. Without a knowledge of basic strategies to keep their survival community healthy, that radiologist will be of little use to their own families, much less society in general. A new focus will be required to function as a medical resource in times of trouble. They will have to learn what medicinal properties exist in the plants around them. Aloe Vera can help treat a burn, pine needles have Vitamin C, aspirin-like substances exist in the underbark of willows and poplar trees. They will have to understand how to grow and cultivate herbs that have medicinal benefits, because all of the commercially manufactured drugs will no longer be available.
Having said that, alternative healers must also understand that not all traditional medicine is harmful. Infected wounds really do get better with Amoxicilllin, Insulin really does lower a diabetic’s blood sugar. It’s difficult to treat a major hemorrhage without tourniquets and Quikclot or Celox. Alternative healthcare providers have important knowledge: Which herbs and essential oils might have a benefit for various conditions, and what are the possible benefits of colloidal silver or even acupuncture. This is knowledge that will help them become effective medics for their community, but a knowledge of how to use a SAM splint to set a broken bone or how to suture a laceration is important as well.
Having an inflexible attitude towards one branch of medicine or another is harmful to your family or survival group. This intransigence is akin to entering a fistfight with one hand tied behind your back. We must integrate medicine to include all methods if we are serious about maintaining the health of our people. The tools are there, so why not take advantage of all of them and not just some? If we ever enter truly bad times, we will have to do a lot of improvising. If the bad times last long enough, our stockpiled drugs will eventually run out. Unless we have the skill to distill essential oils from plants, they will run out also. Both alternative and traditional medical professionals should have respect for and encourage cooperation with each other; together, they can work to rebuild a healthy society.