the alternative fix
photo of foot reflexologyphoto of a some bottles of st john's wort
Culture Clash
home
consumers
assessing
the clash
discussion

Conventional doctors and alternative therapists have been at odds for decades, but today some are working together in unprecedented ways. Here are excerpts from FRONTLINE's interviews and other readings on the opposing approaches to healing and their sometimes rocky integration process.

The Alternative Philosophy of Medicine
The myriad of alternative and complementary therapies all share an approach to healing that aims to harness the innate healing power of the body and emphasizes practical results rather than rational, theoretical explanations. In these excerpts from their interviews, medical historian James Whorton, alternative practitioner Andrew Weil and conventional doctor—and skeptic—Marcia Angell discuss and critique this "alternative" worldview.

related links

One Out of Three Americans
In 1993, a landmark study by Dr. David Eisenberg revealed that an astonishing one in three Americans had used some form of alternative or complemetary medicine, most of them without informing their physicians. In these excerpts FRONTLINE explores the impetus behind this recent surge in interest in alternative therapies with Eisenberg, Harvard University's Marcia Angell and Tom Delbanco, alternative practioner Andrew Weil and medical historian James Whorton.

Countercultural Healing: A Brief History of Alternative Medicine in America
by James Whorton, M.D.
Although it seems like the current surge in interest in alternative medicine is a modern trend, in fact, alternative practioners like homeopaths and naturopaths have been active in America--and battling with conventional doctors--for over 150 years. Medical historian James Whorton traces the history of alternative medicine in America, and explores the evergreen appeal of holistic approaches to healing.

Pros and Cons of Integrative Medicine
Many hospitals today offer a variety of nonconventional treatments, and dozens of medical schools teach courses in alternative medical systems. Proponents of this integrative approach argue that it is simply an attempt to provide patients with the most comprehensive care available. Critics believe it's unethical for medical professionals to offer scientifically unproven treatments, and allege that for hospitals and medical schools, it's all about the bottom line. In these interview excerpts, experts on both sides debate the pros and cons of "integrative medicine."

home + introduction + tips for consumers + science or snake oil? + culture clash + interviews
analyses + discussion + teacher's guide + viewer's guide + producer's chat
tapes & transcripts + press reaction + credits + privacy policy
FRONTLINE + wgbh + pbsi

posted november 4, 2003

web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

RECENT STORIES

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS