Allopathic and the Complementary Approaches to Medicine

HND Complementary Therapies

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Image 1, (Collinge, 2008)



History of Medicine and Healing




Different approaches between Allopathic and Complementary Therapies



Common Ground

Disadvantages of Integration

Existing Models





This report describes models and theories of healing.  The history of medicine and healing is discussed relating to Allopathic and the Complementary approaches and common ground between both.  Also included is where the different models exist and a brief description of the research findings.

History of Medicine and Healing


Herbalism is the study and use of plants used for medicinal purposes to treat many different ailments.  Different cultures use plants from traditions passed down from their ancestors and through observations realised that plants can have a positive effect on someone displaying ill health.

The first recording of herbs being used as medicine dates back 5000 years in Iraq where archaeologist had been found thyme and caraway on a clay bed which was used in healing the sick.


Chinese herbalism also dates back 5000 years and is widely used in Chinese medicine in the present day.   The Chinese emperor Chi’en Nung wrote a book called Pen Tsao which contained over 300 herbs such as Chinese ephedra, the herb from which Western scientists have derived the drug ephedrine used to treat obesity.


Hippocrates was born on the island of Kos, Greece around 460 BC. He became regarded as the founder of medicine and he based his medical practices on observing and studying the human body. He held the belief that illness had a physical and a logical explanation.  Hippocrates findings and recordings of medicinal recipes reveal treatments and curatives used by the early ancient Greeks and are still practiced within allopathic care today.

According to the

World Health Organisation

(WHO), 80 percent of the population of some Asian and African countries presently use herbal medicine in a majority of their  health care. The reason being pharmaceuticals are really expensive and most of these countries are poverty stricken so cannot afford modern day medicines.   This compared to herbal medicines which can be grown abundantly in a more natural way for a fraction of the cost on their doorstep.

Most of the modern day medicines are derived from herbal, natural plants which are used in many ancient traditional cultures and are still used in this day and age such as

Many of the


currently available today  have a long history of use as herbal remedies, including

  • Opium

    , – an analgesic that is chemically processed to make heroine and morphine.

  • Aspirin

    ,- used to treat pain, fever and inflammation within the body.

  • Digitalis

    – is used to treat heart conditions.

  • Quinine

    – used in the treatment of malaria and also for restless leg syndrome.

(Patwardhan, B. 2005)

Different approaches between Allopathic and Complementary Therapies




Use of pharmaceutical drugs which may be harmful to other organs in the body.

Waiting time on appointment.

Limited appointment time allocated.

Unfamiliar GP.

Symptoms are only addressed not the cause on initial appointment.

Waiting time for referral to specialist.

Patient relies on GP for their overall health and take no responsibility of their own.

Long term use of drugs can cause dependency and/or addiction.

Drugs can cause other symptoms or damage to other organs in the body.

Emergency treatment.

Treatment of infection.

Scans and Xrays can show internal issues of the body.

Specialist care when illness or disease is in the later stages.




Usually a long appointment

Treatment can take a long time to work

Can be costly

Not available long term on the NHS.

Not regulated.

Therapist spends time with client to get to know them

Non invasive

Patient takes own responsibility for  own lifestyle.

Treats the body as a whole, mentally, physically and emotionally

Common Ground

Common ground for Allopathic and Complementary therapies include

  • Both are aiming to give the patient relief from the symptoms displayed.
  • Agreements between both on protocols used.
  • Patient satisfaction and commitment from both sides.
  • An understanding of how both health models work and how they can work together..
  • How patients expectations are met such as complementary therapies during cancer treatments.

Disadvantages of Integration

Some disadvantages of integration of complementary therapies into allopathic health care may include:

  • Lack of knowledge of various complementary therapies and what they involve.
  • Not knowing the referral process.
  • No scientific evidence so may be a bit skeptical about complementary therapies.
  • The patient might not see results immediately, so may end treatment too soon.
  • May experience a healing crisis so patient may think symptoms are worsening so will end treatment.
  • Beliefs of patient may discourage them from accepting complementary treatments.
  • Not all complementary therapy treatments are suitable for some conditions so this could be disappointing for the patient.

Existing Models

‘The Centre’ at Gartnavel Hospital in the west end of Glasgow offers people an integrated health service for those who suffer from long term chronic pain, physical tiredness and mental health issues relating to anxiety the help to combat these issues through a holistic approach to the body. Referrals are made from all health care professionals in exactly the same way as all other hospitals and clinics. Normally your GP will refer you, but you may be referred from another hospital specialist. All patients are offered an appointment within nine weeks of the referral letter being received. The main aim is to promote and enhance wellbeing through self-care, self-regulation and self-healing.  Patients are seen in an Outpatient Clinic by either a doctor or an advanced specialist nurse practitioner whose purpose is to achieve a comprehensive and holistic understanding of your illness, and the impact it has on your daily life. The integrative care plan involves a co-ordinated mix of health and wellness coaching with advice and information. It also includes the teaching of health-making practices and technique interventions which are intended to facilitate greater vitality, resilience and growth in the person who presents with the illness. These practices and therapies may include:

  • Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy,
  • Heart math,
  • Counselling,
  • Art and Music Therapy,
  • Physiotherapy
  • Therapeutic Massage
  • Acupuncture,
  • Homeopathy,
  • Mistletoe Therapy,
  • Relaxation,
  • Stress Management,
  • Yoga and Tai Chi.

Glastonbury Health Centre (GHC) is another model who offers an integrated complementary medicine service joining their NHS General Practice with five mainstream complementary therapies.

The GHC aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of their patients,  who are chronically ill with many different conditions.

They claim that the cost of the complementary therapies service is covered by the savings they make in medication costs and referrals so this means it is working out to be more financially viable.


was established in 1992 and consists of a three GP practice with 4,500 patients and funded

by Somerset Trust for Integrated Health.

The aims of the Trust are to support the integration of effective complementary medicine in Primary Care.

This is achieved by:

– subsidising access to complementary medicine,

– researching the impact of integrated complementary medicine,

– establishing links and disseminating information to other providers, and

– lobbying the NHS to support integrated complementary medicine.


Cherion, n.d)

GHC provide 3 hours of treatment which are usually broke down into  4-6 separate  appointments and  include:

  • Acupuncture,
  • Herbal medicine
  • Homoeopathy
  • Massage Therapy
  • Osteopathy.

According to Green Medicine This choice of therapies were chosen as they as they consist of 70% of complementary medicine consultations in the UK, and they are the most-validated specialities with accredited professional standards. Osteopathic practice is now subject to registration by the General Osteopathic Council.  (Cherion, n.d).


On completion of this report, I now have a better understanding of how complementary therapies can be integrated into other areas and not just as a pamper session.  I have read many articles when researching this report relating to complementary therapies and modern day health care and found the evidence that both can really work well together.  I also found that integration is becoming more and more popular and hope that in the near future, patients can make a personal choice of how their health conditions are treated.  My aims for my future is to work within the NHS sector either in palliative care or with addictions, and I think this unit will stand me in good stead for reaching the qualifications standard needed to access this area of employment. Overall I have enjoyed researching this subject and learned lots to help me further my future education within complementary therapies.



        Cherion. (n.d).

Complementary Medicines in Public Health Foundation .

Available: Last accessed 14th October 2018.

  • Patwardhan, B. (2005).

    Traditional Medicine: Modern Approach for Affordable Global Health.

    Available: Last accessed 14th October 2018.
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    October 2018.

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