Americans spend more than one-tenth of their out-of-pocket health care dollars on alternative medicine, according to the first national estimate of such spending in more than a decade. Chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists and herbal remedies are commanding significant consumer dollars as people seek high-touch care in a high-tech society, the report shows. Researchers can't explain why. The answer is deceptively simple.
"Holism" (or wholism, to some) is taking the place in modern medical thought of "compartmentalism", the principle being that the body's ailments need be addressed in the full complexity of the individual organisms, rather than as separate and distinct systems. Thus, an awareness of how, for instance, back pain often relates to the arches of the feet, or how headaches relate to neck pain which further derives from deficits in one's vision, are all critical facilities for today's health care practitioner.
Medical doctors are generally not trained to think this way. They are taught compartmental theory and tend to have "protocols" for treatment. "If patient X presents with symptom Y, prescribe drug Z". This approach works well in crisis situations or when the solution is fairly elementary but, as health questions compound, this approach has been exposed as inadequate. Rather, evaluating the patient as a "whole person", taking into account all of their systems and their relationships, even indirect, has been shown the more successful perspective. Conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic and myofascial pain, and many psychological disorders, commonly labelled "syndromes" due to our nebulous understanding of them, have responded well to holistic consideration.
Chiropractors have been holists for decades. A good chiropractic diagnostician can see the "sum of the parts" as well as the parts themselves. What does this get you? Results. That is why Americans spend an increasing amount of health care dollars on alternative medicine. It works!