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What is allopathic medicine?

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What is allopathic medicine?

Allopathic medicine refers to contemporary (modern), which is western medicine. It is a dominant form of health care in developed countries. The word “allopathic” is derived from the Greek word: “állos”, which means other, and “pathia”, which means disease, hence allopathic  means “other than disease”. The phrase implies that allopathic medicine produces the other (or opposite) effect of the disease. 

The term, allopathy, was coined by Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician. He used the term to distinguish between contemporary medicine and other forms of medicine, such as traditional medicine.  

How does it work?

Allopathy is known as western medicine because it follows the western therapeutic framework, which is a drug-oriented methodology. The drugs are discovered and developed using a scientific process that involves making a hypothesis, conducting tests with experiments, and analyzing the collected data. This process could take years

Prior to deploying allopathic medicine, clinical trials are carried out to evaluate and test the effects of the medicine and treatment on people. After the clinical trials, the drug can be approved or redeveloped. The time it takes to discover, develop, and test the drug varies from a few years to 20 years. 

Allopathic professionals and medicine

Allopathic medicine professionals are known as a doctor of medicine (MD), a designation for someone that has gone through many years of learning and training to earn a qualification in one or more fields of medical specialization. The doctors that practice allopathic medicine employ an evidence-based approach to diagnosing diseases and administering treatment. The treatment or medicine administered by allopathic doctors is approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). 

The benefits and risks of allopathic medicine

Allopathic medicine is evidence-based medicine and that gives it a leg up over other systems of medicine. As mentioned earlier, it employs a scientific process to improve healthcare decisions. Allopathic medicine is not without risk and due to various reasons different people may react differently to treatment and there are sometimes unusual and unexpected side effects. 

Allopathic medicine is often contrasted with traditional medicine, however, the two do not have to be in competition as they can be integrated  to improve the cost and quality of healthcare in developed and developing societies.  

References and further reading:

  • Madan, T.N., 1969. Who chooses modern medicine and why. Economic and political weekly, pp.1475-1484.
  • McKee, J., 1988. Holistic health and the critique of Western medicine. Social science & medicine, 26(8), pp.775-784.
  • More, B., 2016. Overview of medicine-its importance and impact. DJ International Journal of Medical Research, 1(1), pp.1-8.
  • Nedrow, A.R., Heitkemper, M., Frenkel, M., Mann, D., Wayne, P. and Hughes, E., 2007. Collaborations between allopathic and complementary and alternative medicine health professionals: four initiatives. Academic Medicine, 82(10), pp.962-966.

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