Though it is now practiced throughout the world, “Western medicine” is a term sometimes used to describe evidence-based medicine, which, for various historical reasons, emerged from “Western” civilization (i.e. countries originally populated by or settled by Europeans). The name may be substituted for other phrases such as “general” “modern”, “mainstream” or “allopathic medicine“.
In 1810, Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843), the creator of homoeopathy, conceived the term “Allopathic medicine” to refer to emerging scientific systems of medicine, which focussed on the use of pharmacologically active agents or physical interventions to treat or suppress symptoms of diseases or conditions. Early allopaths were called mechanics, as the allopathic approach considered the ‘body as a machine’, where parts could be, and still are, treated in isolation.
The fundamental bedrock of allopathic medicine involves taking a patient history and doing a thorough physical examination to establish a diagnosis. Making an accurate diagnosis allows the physician to use a vast, ever changing knowledge base to best advise the patient of the treatment options available.
The Hippocratic Oath, “to do no harm” (Hippocrates (c. 460 – c. 370 BC) is used as a guiding principle for physicians, and given that allopathic medicine does not have an answer for every condition, it is necessary for the doctor to determine if the potential benefits of the treatment outweigh its possible side-effects.
Modern ‘orthodox‘ medicine has evolved rapidly over the last 50 years and has taken advantage of developments in the fields of microscopy and laboratory investigations to better understand the pathology of underlying diseases. New technologies, including imaging, endoscopy and improved medical devices offer the potential for more accurate diagnoses and treatments remotely, which have impacted the lives of many people. The internet, artificial intelligence and robotics has enabled further advances by offering treatment options even in areas where great precision is required such as in eye and neurosurgery.
Other key benefits of allopathy include:
Licensed medical facilities and their personnel are routinely held to high standards to ensure quality care.
Allopathic drugs must pass rigorous testing before being used on patients.
Antibiotics, pain medications, hormone replacements, and mental health drugs have helped countless patients live more manageable lives.