Why does mainstream medicine only treat patients with drugs?
Published: May 18, 2018
Mainstream medicine does not only treat patients with drugs. Mainstream medicine encompasses all techniques that have been shown by credible evidence to successfully promote and protect human health. This includes surgery, physical therapy, exercise, balanced nutrition, adequate sleep, preventative care, counseling and lifestyle changes. Preventing illness, treating acute conditions, and promoting general health through non-drug measures is a core part of mainstream medicine, and always has been.
If you break your arm, a competent mainstream doctor will set the bone back into place and then construct a cast around the arm to immobilize it. He won't just hand you pills and send you back home. He may give you painkillers to help you handle the pain, or antibiotics to protect against infection, but these drugs aren't healing the broken bone. The broken bone heals itself naturally when the bone is properly set in place and protected from further damage and infection. Mainstream doctors know that the human body has the innate ability to naturally heal broken bones, and that is why they treat fractures with casts instead of drugs.
If you get a deep cut in your leg, a competent mainstream doctor will stitch or medically glue your skin back together. She won't send you home with just drugs. Again, the point is that the doctor applies a treatment that aids your body's own natural healing mechanisms.
If you suffer from joint pain (bursitis), a mainstream doctor will teach you specific motions and exercises that will aid the body in its healing.
The list goes on and on. If you have a vitamin deficiency caused by poor nutrition, a mainstream doctor will instruct you on how to have a balanced diet. If you are allergic to peanuts, a mainstream doctor will instruct you on how to avoid peanut-containing foods. If you have sleep apnea, a mainstream doctor will most likely have you try using a breathing machine at night. If you suffer from post-partum depression, a mainstream doctor's first approach will most likely be signing you up for professional counseling. If you have headaches from overusing caffeine, a mainstream doctor will help you develop a plan to reduce caffeine consumption.
Furthermore, mainstream doctors instruct their patients in preventative care. They tell their patients to quit smoking, to get more exercise, to be screened for diseases and risk factors, to avoid drug abuse, to be up to date on vaccines, to cut back on alcohol over-use, to avoid risky sexual behavior, etc. Any approach that has been demonstrated by credible evidence to improve, protect, and promote human health is part of mainstream medicine and is used by competent doctors.
The misconception that medical doctors only use drugs is most likely the result of two factors. First, there are indeed a few medical doctors who often skip all the other options and go straight to prescribing drugs. They may be too over-scheduled to talk to you about lifestyle changes, or may assume that you are already know about the non-drug approaches. Whatever their excuse may be, the few doctors that act like this are simply failing to use the full resources of modern, mainstream, evidence-based medicine. They are therefore not representative of mainstream medicine in general. Fortunately, such doctors are rare. If your primary care doctor never talks to you about exercise, nutrition, screenings, or vaccines, that just means it's time to find a new doctor. Unfortunately, the incomplete approach of a few oddball doctors can taint the entire profession in some people's minds, leading them to think that doctors only use drugs.
Secondly, there has unfortunately arisen a large array of non-evidence-based healthcare providers who twist the truth in order to generate more business. In order to justify the use of their products and services, they co-opt mainstream medicine's non-drug approaches and pretend that only they provide such approaches. "Doctors only use drugs, so come to us to find a more natural approach to healing!" This is a common falsehood promoted by such scammers. Unfortunately, they have been somewhat successful in their misinformation efforts. Many people now see exercise, nutrition, counseling, lifestyle changes, preventative care, and natural healing as outside the realm of mainstream medicine, which is absurd.
Note that none of this explanation is meant to imply that the use of prescribed drugs is always a bad idea. For many situations, prescribing a drug is the best approach. In many cases, a mainstream doctor is correct in going directly to that option. For acute blood-sugar episodes in diabetics, insulin injections really are the best approach. For a severe allergic reaction, an epinephrine injection really is the best option. In such situations, avoiding drugs and looking for a "more natural approach" could be deadly. Prescribing a drug is not automatically a sign that a doctor has failed to pursue a more effective non-drug approach.