Week 7 Questions: Nature and Local Traditions

What is your perception – and what would you say is contemporary medicine’s perception – of “complementary and alternative medicine?” This week we learned about Professor Quave’s ethnobotanical approach to drug discovery. Is what she does “complementary and alternative medicine” or is it “scientifically/empirically-based medicine?” What is the difference? What insight does her work lend to conversations about the distinction between “complementary and alternative medicine” and “scientifically/empirically-based medicine?”

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16 Responses to Week 7 Questions: Nature and Local Traditions

  1. Kristine Rosenberger says:

    I believe that, if properly practiced, complementary medicine can play an integral role in the health treatment of an individual. Alternative treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractors and homeopathy have emerged as less evasive options for patients in a society that typically favors the evasive measures of western medicine. There is often a strong cultural significance associated with the practice of alternative medicine and the implementation of such practices can foster the growth of an individual’s identity. Alternative medicine thus relates to the importance of culture in health and can be used to achieve holistic health, as the use of complementary practices not only treats the person’s condition but can also focus on aspects of the person’s spiritual and mental health.
    Contemporary medicine as a whole does not hold a favorable opinion of complementary and alternative medicine. The practice of western medicine notoriously favors the use of invasive procedures. Be it dangerous surgery, chemotherapy or the prescription of a myriad of drugs at the first sign of discomfort western medicine sees illness and injury as something foreign to the body that must be attacked and destroyed. Conversely alternative medicine focuses on the connection between body and ailment – it works not to destroy the illness but to strengthen the body. Therefore I believe that in order to provide the highest standard of care it is important to integrate complementary and alternative medicine
    Ethnobotany is defined as the scientific study of the relationship between people and plants. In this sense Dr. Quave’s work can be described as empirically based; her research involves aspects dealing with data collection and biological sampling which are fundamental components of scientific research. However Dr. Quave openly recognizes that culture plays a major role in the practice of ethno botany and in this sense her work takes on the title of alternative medicine as well. Quave mentions how zymology, an area of applied science related to the practice of fermentation, is widely practiced by the cultures she studies. Whereas the actual practice of fermentation is rooted in scientific-based principles, the passing down of the tradition suggests a cultural significance. This significance makes it an alternative practice that is not widely implemented in all parts of the world. Traditionally elders are the knowledge keepers of these cultures and are responsible for passing down cultural traditions and practices. In her research Quave mentions that there is a considerable difference in the use of seventy-seven different types of plants between two different groups. Whereas her description involves the use of quantitative data the actual phenomenon describes the use of alternative medicine hence making her work a hybrid between the two. Scientific medicine relies primarily on the use of quantitative data whereas complementary medicine relies first and foremost on experience and members’ meaning. In this way Dr. Quave’s research employs aspects of both scientific and alternative medicine as she documents the culturally differing uses of the physical and chemical properties of plants.
    Dr. Quave’s work supports the assertion that complementary medicine is a culture driven phenomena that it not completely independent from scientific based medicine. The different properties and uses of plants as documented by Quave are rooted in scientific principles. These practices are viewed as alternative because they do not fit the western definition of medical care. This brings up an intriguing point in regards to bioethics, namely the importance of recognizing a commonly held assumption that Americans believe treatments characteristic of western medicine are always right. Despite the potential effectiveness of alternative medicine Americans are hesitant to fully endorse it because it does not fit their schema for medical care. As was stated by Dr. Scully in her lecture on gender and culture the principle of cultural therapeutics states that it is impossible to do healing without cultural knowledge. It is thus imperative to take the explanatory models of illness for different cultures into account as these have the potential to greatly influence a culture’s medical practices. In his lecture on ethics Dr. Wolpe proposed ethics as the process of expressing values in the world, which relates to the difference in documented ethnobotanical knowledge between the Gorani and Albanian tribes. Their divergent uses of a variety of different plants are indicative of fundamentally different cultural values. Ultimately alternative medicine is not an entity independent of scientific medicine but rather one that applies basic scientific principles into a usage that reflects the values and culture of its people.

  2. Akanksha Samal says:

    I am personally fine with utilizing contemporary and alternative medicine simultaneously because I come from a culture where the practice is fairly common. Alternative medicine can provide a more natural way to achieve healing without, as Kristine wrote, overly invasive methods. Though I think I, as well as many others, need strong empirical backing by observation and experience to support the use of alternative remedies. If multiple people could vouch for the effectiveness of a medicine, I would have an easier time believing the medicine was viable. The same, however, can be said for the use of all types of medications. The Western world has historically dismissed alternative medicine as an unscientific and, at times, even laughable practice – a practice one would associate with “quacks”. I think the same can be said for the modern day view of alternative medicine because people want evidence and data. However, I think people tend to forget that alternative medicine practices do ascribe to a very loose, broad form of the scientific method; the practices and remedies are just experientially derived. For example, people question whether a specific plant could serve a function and test it out before passing on what they learned in oral form.

    After hearing Professor Quave’s talk this past week, I would say that she combines both alternative medicine and scientifically-based medicine in her ethnobotanical approach to drug discovery. In the Emory magazine article on her approach, she outright states, “Ideally, we should combine the best of both modern medicine and complementary alternative medicine.” Her publication in Nature included a significant portion on her methodology at the end, which followed the scientific method with a clearly defined hypothesis, method of data collection, and evaluation of the results using mathematics, which is typical of the scientifically/empirically-based approach. However, from her talk, she also observed and participated in Albanian community practices from cooking and planting with community members to learning more about the uses of each plant. She gained experiential knowledge of the alternative medicine practices used in the Balkans.

    I would say the main difference between scientifically-based and alternative medicine is in their respective approaches; scientifically-based medicine tends to follow a rigid, documented, step-by-step manner of discovery in order to heal. Healthcare practitioners give patients medicines that have been tested in clinical trials. They then document their patient’s condition, and look for signs of improvement. If the medicine doesn’t work out, or causes other side effects, they switch it up and repeat the process. Alternative medicine doesn’t follow strictly defined rules; knowledge gained from experience is just applied. Alternative medicine can also include a spiritual or cultural component that also facilitates a patient’s mental recovery alongside the physical. The follow-up is similar: if the medicine works, keep using it, if it doesn’t, stop and try something else.

    Professor Quave’s approach points out the limitations of Western medicine in its lack of consideration for a patient’s cultural background, and the potential for cultural therapeutics. Her studies on traditional remedies also prove that some alternative medicine practices have scientific backing. Overall, I would say that Professor Quave’s approach gives insight into the possibility of compromise between the two methods. Both scientifically based medicine and alternative medicine each offer their own positives for healing, so why not use the best of both?

  3. Courtni Alexis Andrews says:

    My perception of complementary and alternative medicine is it is bridging the gaps between the traditional views of science and medicine with the traditional and often discredited knowledge of complementary/alternative medicine. I think complementary medicine is how it sounds – a way to complement an approach to healing and being well. I personally advocate and like the integrative medicine approach because it is the kind of medicine that tries to draw characteristics from both, but utilizes them in a way that tries to help individual and the larger community by being as knowledgeable and conscientious as possible. However, I think complementary medicine views complementary and alternative medicine in the same fashion as modern medicine or alternative medicine sees complementary medicine – there are very evident pros, but there is a lack of understanding and cohesion needed to fully flesh out the relationship between and among the different forms of medicine.

    However, Professor Quave does a wonderful job of showing and demonstrating how interdisciplinary thinking and problem-solving can utilize elements of complementary/alternative medicine to be more fully connected to scientifically/empirically-based medicine. As she described in her presentation, ethnobotany is the science of survival. In order to study how organisms survive, as it has already been brought up, she employs multiple layers of consent, data collection through focus groups, and participant observations, and utilizes the latest technologies/techniques in biology and chemistry, which does a wonderful way of combining traditional knowledge and medicine with empirical methods. Therefore, she blurs the lines and creates the dynamic that integrative and/or complementary and alternative medicine would have if both weren’t wary or misinformed about each other.

    Although the scientific method employs replication and documentation of experiments, cultural and societal influences, ideas and ideology are relative and reflect back on what is considered the science of today, yesterday and tomorrow. I think that’s the only real difference that is maintained between complementary and alternative medicine and scientifically/empirically-based medicine at its core. Without culture, certain questions, ideas and identities wouldn’t be established and there wouldn’t be responses that would thereby try to either change or reinforce that science and culture that is in place. Therefore, her work, as well as the work of those who are interdisciplinary to utilize “nature and nurture”, is important to bring conversations to not ones of division, but rather of synergy and collaboration.

  4. Matthew Brandon Fine says:

    I believe that both alternative and medical treatment can be used effectively together. As we saw in both the studies and in Dr. Quave’s talk for drug research this is particularly important as it is allowing us to discover new compounds that may have been in use for hundreds of years, especially as many of the drugs that we have become so reliant on are becoming ineffective or are just now discovering their toxic effects. Her research is imperative to keep medical innovation on the right track, and I think that the medical establishment, apart from major pharmaceutical companies, is embracing this paradigm shift. Many doctors are now “prescribing” these alternative methods as an integral part to their treatment programs as a means to improve the patients mental state and provide less invasive treatments rather than our typical medicalized procedures. This goes back to Dr. Wolpe’s talk, where he mentioned that overall doctors will prescribe a fix all pill rather than telling their patients to meditate or go do yoga, but with my experience as a patient and shadowing doctors I have had the pleasures of seeing a growing movement of doctors embracing this movement and methods.

    In other areas of medical treatment I agree with Courtni, complementary medicine is just that complementary to “Scientific” treatment. This is particularly true with things like acupuncture or other east Asian homeopathic methods, which play an important cultural role as well as having some documented evidence of effectiveness. While alternative treatments do have some measurable effect, I believe more that they help a person heal mentally and spiritually rather than more physical treatments we receive in hospitals. This traces back to the whole theme of this course of treating the patient as a whole rather than an illness.

    Dr. Quave presents this great duality of both traditional and methodological based medicine. As I mentioned in my voicethread traditional medicine can be science based as these methods have had to be proven over time and their has been a sort of scientific method behind establishing their use, but not all scientific treatment is traditional knowledge. But as I mentioned earlier there is a growing movement to bring these traditional methods into this scientifically proven arena to provide more effective and less harmful treatments. I think that Dr. Quave and ethnobotany’s approach in general provide valuable insights into the medical field, and that it needs to be taken more seriously in that industry so that these innovations can continue and patients could be treated more effectively. One thing that I believe is hampering this shift is as she mentioned the perception of ethnobotanists being those people obsessed with growing psychotropic containing organisms, if this field were more well regarded and accepted I believe it would play a much larger and important role in medical research.

  5. Kyle Arbuckle says:

    I hold a very high view of complementary medicine, because I believe health is healing, and healing comes in many ways, shapes, and forms. I would say often times contemporary medicine holds a negative view of complementary medicine because contemporary medicine is based on treatment and not healing. This is not to discredit scientific medicine, because our life expectancy’s have dramatically improved due to scientific research on medicine. However, Professor Quave’s research blurs the line completely on what is complementary versus scientific. Her work is scientific as she is constantly performing experiments to determine what herbs do what, but herbs would be considered alternative, not scientific per se. I really liked what Matthew said about how complementary medicine is just that, complementary. Last year, in my predictive health 210 class, Dr. John Kim spoke to us about integrative medicine. He stressed the point that scientific medicinal healing is equal to spiritual healing is equal to psychological healing. All three were important to health and none outweighed the other. So Dr. Quave’s work demonstrates an alternative, but also a complement to contemporary medicine, as much of her work deals with cultural botany, and for these cultures, their traditions are important to their identity.

  6. Lauren Maryse McNaughton says:

    I view alternative medicine as a very informative and, often times, very effective mode of treatment. There is so much you can learn about a culture based on the alternative methods they use. I always found Traditional Chinese Medicine to be so culturally rich, but it also seems to be so effective for many diseases and illnesses. As my peers said above, it can reach a similar end result as some drugs, with less evasive and more natural processes. However, due to the greater emphasis on tradition and culture, I believe contemporary, Western medicine does not view it to be as legitimate of a science. This is, in my opinion, an unfortunate misconception because traditional and alternative methods usually have undergone decades, if not centuries, of experimentation within the specific population. There is a wealth of information lying within alternative medical methods.

    I agree with my peers above that Dr. Quave’s research falls in between what is classified as alternative medicine and contemporary medicine. While she definitely utilizes traditionally scientific techniques in developing drugs, culture is such a crucial part of her research as well. She mentioned during her lecture that if we were to become stranded on an island in the Mediterranean, she would be able to help us all survive. However, if stranded somewhere else, it may be more difficult. This is because she has been studying the plants and culture of the Mediterranean. Just as scientists may delve into a very specific topic about a chemical compound, scientists like Dr. Quave delve into a very specific topic that also incorporates specific cultures. Therefore, I believe her work emphasizes that there is a gray area between the extremes of alternative medicine and contemporary medicine.

  7. Lucky Khambouneheuang says:

    I identify both practices of medicine practical because they have both worked for my parents. Still, contemporary medicine tends to follow more Western healing philosophies, and this often takes a more biological/cause-effect lens. Medical schools adopt this way of thinking, and this is how physicians in prominent healthcare systems choose to approach an illness. With this in mind, the name labeling even subtly captures the contemporary perception of complementary and alternative medicine. Although I would not say current medicine would entirely dismiss complementary medicine as effective remedies, these are not the frontline treatment options. This may be partly due to the fact Western medicine is perceived to be more efficient and instantly gratifying.

    Dr. Quave’s approach to drug discovery balances both forms of medicine. The fact she relies on community members for local traditional knowledge captures an important aspect of alternative medicine. Here, she closely examines how people survive and adapt to their environment. Interestingly, she uses a scientific approach to isolate the primary active agent of the local plants. One thing I enjoyed from her lecture was the power of interdisciplinary collaboration in ethnobotany. It really takes a team to accomplish a project.

    In terms of differences, complementary/ alternative medicine knowledge seems to take root in history and their ancestor’s experience. Scientific-based medicine approaches knowledge more as a progression from present time trial and error. Dr. Quave however blurs this distinction and gives insight that perhaps there is no need to create new cures but rather a need to rediscover old ones by talking to people who were culturally taught to adapt to certain ailments and diseases. Both sides of medicine have similar objectives for healing, and Dr. Quave exemplifies how the two practices can work together in harmony.

  8. Amelia Elizabeth Van Pelt says:

    Historical antagonism of “allopathy versus the world” exists in the United States and Western societies. For example, many argue that complementary and alternative medicine contests “aggressive” interventions of Western biomedicine, such as surgery, with “gentle” therapies. Thus, it comes as no surprise that I, a Western-minded individual, negatively perceived complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Prior to my junior year of college, I learned about the hierarchy of patient resort in the United States (home remedy->MD->CAM) and aboriginal groups utilizing spiritual rituals as medical practices. Thus, my studies perpetuated my thoughts about CAM techniques as an inadequate form of “medicine”.

    Fortunately, however, a class called “Chronic Disease in South Asia” corrected my ignorance and exposed me to the benefits of CAM. For example, the professor assigned scientific studies that examined the effects of Ayurvedic medicine on individuals’ health. As a result, I classified CAM as a legitimate complement to Western medicine. Thus, medical pluralism can exist within a society. However, a society cannot function off of CAM alone, as I, and many Western individuals, viewed the system as complementary and not alternative.

    However, Dr. Quave’s lecture on the medicinal properties of plants caused me to accept the “alternative” component of CAM. To begin with, I did not value CAM as a valid medical option, because science did not support the practices. As an individual who defines science by the scientific method, I could not fully accept the effects of CAM without scientific data. However, Dr. Quave defined ethnobotany as the scientific study of the relationships that exist between people and plants, as explained through chemistry, botany, microbiology, pharmacology, anthropology, and linguistics. In addition, Dr. Quave discussed the inclusion of various methodological processes that mimic the scientific process. Therefore, with regard to plants as CAM, I accept their credibility as an alternative medicine. After all, the majority of pharmaceuticals used in the Western world originate from plant chemicals, so the use of plants in Western societies is not as foreign as believed. Moreover, since Dr. Quave’s scientifically-based medical research stems from ethnobotanical practices, she will more than likely have a “medical breakthrough” in drug development and discovery before traditional researchers due to her exposure to traditional ecological knowledge. Thus, Dr. Quave’s work will add to the scientific research community. In addition, it can help to integrate plants into biomedicine and to bridge the gap between CAM and Western medicine.

  9. Kayleigh Jo Moss says:

    There seems to be this stigma around holistic practitioners, those who offer complementary and alternative medicine, because they feel the treatments offered in those offices have no scientific basis or that they are somewhat effective because of the patient’s expectation of healing. This thought, however, is completely false. In a course with Dr. Lampl on predictive health and society, a guest lecturer and head practitioner of a holistic care facility in Atlanta spoke to us about holistic medicine. He asserted that most holistic doctors do not throw science out the window, but rather they utilize every tool most doctors do, but with more caution. They exercise caution in prescribing pills and other common treatments and use them as a part pf a broader, more integrated treatment in which the doctor takes the time to learn the patients diet, lifestyle, and character. Then he creates a treatment plan that will be most effective for the individual. These plans include contemporary western medicine and alternative treatments like Yoga and acupuncture. Although many of these treatments are not fully understood by the scientific community, there effect is evident and, in the least, no harm has been found. The same cannot necessarily be said for all of contemporary medicine’s approaches.

    Professor Quave’s research further shows that alternative medicine does have a place in contemporary medicine because it can be scientifically and empirically derived. The cultural significance of these treatments and natural treatments gives them value – it does not make them cultural myths. The separation of alternative and scientific medicine is formed more out of a lack of knowledge and understanding than actual difference. We tend to shy away from what we don’t understand. We see these cultural treatments and medicines and dismiss them because scientific medicine has been tested and we can read pages and pages of effects and uses. But Professor Quave’s work is just as scientific, showing that these cultural practices have just as much value. Likewise, there is evidence vouching for other alternative methods like Yoga.

  10. Emily Pieper says:

    I believe that complementary and alternative medicine has the potential to be very beneficial when used in combination with contemporary medicine. I grew up attending a Waldorf School, and although I didn’t realize it at the time we learned a lot about alternative therapies and home remedies. Our learning was extremely place based; we learned by observing behaviors and going out and exploring nature. One of my favorite places we would go was the mineral springs (I live in Saratoga Springs, NY) where we learned about the strong healing powers offered by these springs. Incorporating alternative and complementary medicines unique to certain cultures and regions gives contemporary medicine a more holistic approach to healing and medicine. While contemporary and alternative medicines can be beneficial when used in combination, contemporary medicine tends to be unaccepting of alternative medicinal practices. Our medical system is so focused on developing the newest technologies and performing invasive procedures to cure disease and deliver healthcare. To me, the term healthcare beautifully exemplifies how medicine should be practiced; it should deliver health services in a caring way. By integrating alternative and complementary medicines with contemporary medicine, holistic healthcare delivery can be achieved.

    Dr. Quave’s ethnobotanical approach to drug discovery is one of these healthcare combinations. She uses both scientific and alternative research methods to discover new medicines. The main difference between scientific medicine and alternative medicine is found in the research method. Scientific medicine tends to be more rigidly conducted with set experimental groups. Alternative medicine is quite the opposite as it focuses more on the culmination of local knowledge that is culturally competent to the region in which it was developed. Dr. Quave’s work illustrates how Western contemporary medicine tends to ignore the cultural component of healthcare. In discussing food insecurity, Dr. Quave explained the importance of food sovereignty or the practice of providing foods that meet the cultural needs of the people. Overall, Dr. Quave’s work illustrates the benefits of both scientific Western medicine and alternative or complementary medicine. If complementary and scientific medicine have knowledge and practices to offer, both should be used to complement each other to provide the best healthcare possible.

  11. Olha Seredyuk says:

    First, I think it may be worthwhile to discuss that while the words “complementary” and “alternative” seem to be grouped together to describe a single concept of medicine, but perhaps these terms are not synonymous.
    My perception of complementary medicine is that it is basically made up of methods, which serve to alleviate any side effects of the practice of scientifically based medicine. They accompany regular medical treatment and help people feel better. For instance, a patient undergoing chemotherapy may drink peppermint tea to alleviate nausea or sign up for acupuncture to relieve pain and reduce stress. Complementary methods of medicine do not ensure cure, but I would say that contemporary medicine favors complementary methods over alternative methods. By endorsing complementary methods, contemporary healthcare makes a compromise with alternative medicine.
    My perception of alternative medicine is that it is based on treatments that can substitute those of scientifically/empirically-based medicine. Alternative treatments may be marketed to ensure cure. However, the main worry with alternative medicine is the safety of treatments and delays, which they can cause. In general, I consider alternative medicine to be relative. While some people may swear by its treatments, most of them have not undergone testing in a clinical trial and not all people receive the cure they’re looking for. My own perception of complementary methods and alternative treatments is fairly positive, because in my own family, they have been relied on and have a long history of success in healing. I come from a culture, which values natural healing over cure, and in part that is because we are a developing country and traditional healers are still respected and widespread within our ethnic community. For example, thirty years ago my grandmother decided to forgo chemotheraphy for her breast cancer, and instead relied on Carpathian alternative medicine and water to heal. I can understand why people consider alternative medical treatments because they tend to be less invasive and sometimes science-based medical approaches interfere with the ethics people live by – how connected they perceive themselves to be to the earth, their understanding of ecology, and their understanding of time and success in health, as well as their level of tolerance and adjustment to living with a disease (etc.)

    I think what Dr. Quave does with the ethnobotanical approach to drug discovery is a mixture of both complementary/alternative medicine and scientifically/empirically based medicine. She is clearly showing how one cannot do without the other. While she is using the ethnobotanical approach to discover the uses of plants in their native communities (both natural and human), she is also getting the plant-based extracts as MRSA treatments from the laboratory into clinical trials – thereby integrating both alternative medicine with scientifically based medicine – empirically validating the medical uses of plants to cure infectious disease, without forgetting their unique identities and the identities of the communities which maintain them. Contemporary medicine (scientifically/empirically based) took its roots from alternative medicine. They are not mutually exclusive. The main difference between the two is that the complementary/alternative medicine is derived from culture and is therefore driven by culture, and by values that a certain culture attributes to nature. I think a great example of this, reading over notes detailing Dr. Quave’s lecture, is when she discussed how closely the ethnobotanical approach engages local communities, and learns from the people within those communities and cultural Diasporas. This part of her lecture connected to one of our assigned articles for the week (Plant Science’s Human Factor), regarding how ethnobotany is more than identifying active compounds in exotic plants, it’s also really about being in the field, coming back to community, and connecting all kinds of research areas (a marriage of sciences and humanities) together to understand the plants and their stewards, and learn how to transfer responsibility. What impresses me about ethnobotany, as described by Dr. Quave, is its multidisciplinary approach. I also appreciated how ethics factored into the outcomes of ethnobotanical methods, given that prior informed consent had to be secured so people know they can back out willingly, but if they share information willingly, they will be given credit for their traditional, generational knowledge. I especially liked the idea of producing a book in collaboration with a University, with the information from a particular community of people in their native language as a better incentive than money. The reason I favor the book over money for information, is because a book confers dignity, whereas money communicates corrupt bribery and biopiracy.

    I think the main difference between the “complementary and alternative medicine” and “scientifically/empirically-based medicine” is how they focus on the patient and the ailment in question. Alternative medicine seems to fit the mind-body approach to health, while the scientifically/empirically based medicine is more biologically based, and thus, biologically driven. I think both types of approaches should ideally inform our practice of medicine and public health. Today, we see a kind of holistic medicine practice emerging with the introduction of “a healthcare team” of professionals available to patients attending to a patient’s physical, psychological, and spiritual needs. I definitely agree that the ability to cure or disable illness, rather than strengthen or enable the person who is experiencing it has dominated for a long time in contemporary medicine. I think a combination of biological and mind-body approaches should be used in medical care. As a related aside, there are many moving parts to making a medical decision – one of the most important decisions people will make is regarding what kind of treatment is most effective, and ultimately, the one they are most comfortable with. When thinking about the distinction between these types of medicine and their implications – the choice is ultimately up to the patient and his/her family. I advise good transparent communication with one’s healthcare provider (doctor, nurse, etc.) to make decisions regarding treatment. Ethics of care, suffering, and religion have to be considered as well.

  12. Farida says:

    Complementary and alternative medicine are treatments derived more naturally that can be used in place of or as a supplement to mainstream drug-therapy. These treatments can include community-based interventions, spiritual healings, botanicals, yoga, acupuncture, and more. Complementary medicine seems to be more as a supplement whereas alternative seems to convey itself as a replacement for drug-therapy, surgery, or more westernized, accepted, and in theory quicker treatments. I think Dr. Quave does a great job merging alternative/complementary medicine with scientifically/empirically based medicine. In the region of Ginestra, she works with community members to understand their local traditions and uses of certain botanicals. With this information, she asks permission to conduct research and explore the uses of certain chemical compounds further. Deriving from a local culture, she is both preserving and advancing the field of ethnobotany and medicine. Scientific/empirically based medical research and treatments would be based primarily on clinical trials, statistics over the short term, and variations of existing treatments. Alternative and complementary medicine has instead been passed down from generation to generation and stances on the efficacy and successes of these botanicals does not change from year to year like it does with prescription drugs. Prescription drugs also come with side effects, which many botanicals I think do not have, or have been paired with the correct practices to reduce symptoms. This makes alternative and complementary medicines more holistic – they take into account mental, physical, spiritual well-being. It’s difficult to measure, but normal medicinal practices may not have a holistic approach – it may only target the biology. Alternative and complementary medicine emphasizes changes in diet, exercise, breathing, and suggests more long-term/preventative care.

  13. Aisha Omolola Morafa says:

    I believe that contemporary and alternative medicine are absolutely beneficial and can be used as holistic treatment for patients. Not only is it less invasive methods and doesn’t solely involve synthesized material, it involves a more global and cultural community which connects people and ideas. Things such as herbal drinks and extractions are not only healthy and natural, but benefits the community where its grown because that could possibly be used as trade. By contemporary medicine incorporating alternative medical methods into its repertoire, it brings the traditional culture associated with it. Dr. Quave and ethnobotany connects the traditional and modern, the science and the practice, the empirical studies and the practical uses. All of the fields of studies involved with scientifically studying plants in other areas for medical uses are so extensive, and ethnobotany connects all the interdisciplinary concerns quite well. She discusses how linguistics, microbiology, chemistry, politics, etc. are all needed to ethically unlock medicinal advances in these plants.
    I don’t believe that there needs to be a distinction from alternative medicine and scientific based medicine. I believe ethnobotany obviously starts researching these plants to understand and create beneficial medicine, but even the simple understanding of the botanic benefits is enough. It ties back to the culture and traditions of the area as to why they use these methods for healing and what that mean for their history. There are a lot of benefits to ethnobotany and how it increases many disciplines literature. Dr. Quave’s work is very difficult because of all the various perspectives she and the field can take, but the initial inquiry is worth it.

  14. MacKenzie Jill Brosnahan says:

    My perception of complementary and alternative medicine has developed and changed in the past year. After taking a philosophy class that focused on alternative and complementary medical practices, I’ve come to believe that they can be very beneficial to our understanding and use of the common scientifically-based medicine that most people would recognize. Many people are unsure or skeptical of the helpfulness of certain alternative or complementary medical practices. So, I believe that contemporary medicine’s perception of these medical practices have not historically been so great. However, as more scientific studies have been going into various alternative and complementary practices, I believe that the opinion of contemporary medicine on the alternative and complementary medicines are changing to a more positive light.

    What Professor Quave has done is considered scientifically-based medicine. While she collects data from people about their past and current uses for certain plants, she also then goes back to testing the actual plants in the lab. So, she’s gathering useful knowledge that at first glance may not be considered scientific or true medical knowledge, but with a closer look it becomes obvious that she is conducting true science-based practices and gaining science-based knowledge. The difference between complementary and alternative medicine to science-based medicine stems from science-based medicine looking more specifically at results, tests, and proven facts. Alternative and complementary medicines can include these tests, but they also incorporate outside information that cannot be tested or proven. This would include Dr. Quave’s interviews with the people who have used the plants over generations. Her biological testing of the materials would be considered science-based medicine.

  15. Jennifer Becerra says:

    My perception of complementary and alternative medicine is that if it is practiced correctly it can be able to be used in contemporary medicine. In modern times, countries like the United States have strayed away from using natural medicine and focused more on chemical based meds that many times have secondary effects on a person. Also, just as Dr. Quave said in her lecture, plants are used everywhere, including medicine, therefore not considering complementary and alternative medicine as a form of medicine is a questionable decision.

    I feel that Dr. Quave’s work is taking complementary and alternative medicine and turning it into scientifically-based medicine. She is doing this by conducting studies that have highlighted the benefits of complementary and alternative medicine in cultures that practice. By creating a structural study, she can have evidence that health providers can then evaluate and eventually accept complementary and alternative medicine into scientifically based medicine.

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