Conventional Western medicine (CWM) has made a great contribution to our health and well-being in the last several decades. Despite its great advance and establishment for the treatment of various diseases, there are several serious problems of CWM (State of Integrative medicine; 2011)
1. Less attention to self-healing;It should be noted that our bodies have the ability to repair by themselves. Unfortunately, the concept of self-healing is absent in the education and practice of CWM. Most patients think that they require medicine and treatment provided by health care professionals.
2. Less attention to a whole person;Human beings as more than just their physical bodies. Human beings have minds, emotions and souls. Future medicine should take care of these aspects of human beings, not just the physical body. CWM physicians only pay attention to the physical body. It is possible to treat physical disease through the mind. It is also possible to treat mental disease through the body.
3. Less attention to preventive medicine; Most of the chronic diseases are diseases associated with our daily life style. Most of the diseases that we are trying to manage are preventable diseases, because they are rooted in our poor life style , such as diets, physical exercise, and social activities. It is much better to prevent diseases than to treat them.
4. Less attention to doctor-patient relationship; The relationship between the practitioner and the patient is very important to the healing process. Many doctors today only have 5-10 minutes to spend with the patient. The relationship between the doctor and patient is the source of the emotional reward of practicing medicine. When the system makes this so short, much of the satisfaction of practicing medicine may disappear.
5. Less attention to social connectedness; It is important for us to feel connected, to be trusted and loved. Feeling connected to others increases psychological and physical well-being and decreases the risk of depression and physical ailments. Despite the clear benefits that feelings of social connectedness, our society is becoming increasingly isolated and distrustful. Economical and social changes developed smaller social networks and an erosion of basic confidence in the trustworthiness of others. CWM does not pay attention to improve social connectedness of individuals to decrease the risk of mental/physical ailments.
6. Adverse effects of drugs: Adverse effects are particularly important in pharmacology. Adverse effects can be reduced by careful and precise pharmacokinetics. Drug-drug and food-drug interactions may occur. In general, most drugs have a large list of non-severe or mild adverse effects which do not rule out continued usage. These effects, which have a widely variable incidence according to individual sensitivity, include nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, malaise, vomiting, headache, dermatitis, dry mouth, etc. These can be considered a form of pseudo-allergic reaction, as not all users experience these effects.
7. Intoxication with capitalism: Capitalism is an economic system that is based on private ownership of the means of production and the creation of goods or services for profit. For capitalism to function, the consumer must have control of spending and enough information to be a wise shopper in his/her own self-interest. It seems likely that health care system is too intoxicated with capitalism.
The pharmaceutical companies enjoy higher profits than any other industry. In 2002, the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the US had a median profit margin of 17%, compared with only 3% for all the other industries on the Fortune 500 list. The pharmaceutical industry has the largest lobby in Washington, DC. There are more pharmaceutical lobbyists there than members of the congress and it gives copiously to political campaigns. As a result, the prescription drug legislation and policies that come out of Washington are usually made to order for the industry.
Advertising also expands the total market. Pharmaceutical companies increasingly promote diseases to fit drugs, rather than the reverse. They try to persuade wealthy people who are suffering from conditions that need long-term treatment. Thus, many normal people come to believe that they have dubious or exaggerated ailments such as generalized anxiety disorder, erectile dysfunction, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and functional dyspepsia.
It is generally accepted that prices should be high to cover their research and development costs for the big pharmaceutical companies. However, it seems that prices are high to cover their marketing costs. At the top 10 US companies in 2002, expenditures for marketing and administration were 31% of sales, compared with only 14% for research and development. That comes to $67 billion dollars of their $217 billion in sales. The financial ties between doctors and pharmaceutical companies have come under intense scrutiny in recent years.
8. Expensive medical cost: Health care cost is too expensive, mainly due to two reasons. (1) CWM does not practice to prevent disease, and we are forced to manage existing disease. (2) The treatments that we depend on are high-tech treatments. Students and doctors of CWM don’t have the opportunities to learn the beneficial effects and its mechanisms of low-tech procedures to treat diseases, such as mind-body therapy and manual therapy.