Is TV Starting to Show Value In Alternative Medicine?

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There has been much discussion in the media and on blogs and message boards about the pilot episode of Eli Stone and its fictional legal case focusing on the link between autism and vaccinations.
What has not been discussed is the recurring character of an “alternative medicine” practitioner – actually an acupuncturist – who is portrayed in a positive light.
Could this be the start of a new trend? One where, if the mainstream media won’t acknowledge the growing acceptance of alternative medicine, then entertainment will?
Eli Stone is not the first TV series to feature another side of medicine. Shonda Rhimes, Grey’s Anatomy creator, introduced the character, Dr. Pete Wilder, an alternative medicine doctor (an MD and an acupuncturist) first on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy in the spring of last year.
Dr. Pete’s methods and opinions are treated with respect by most of the other practitioners in the show’s wellness clinic. Many of the episodes have featured alternative medicine helping a patient, oftentimes when traditional medicine has failed.
Brenna Hill, Executive Director of the American Association for Health Freedom acknowledges, “Hats off to Shonda Rhimes and ABC/Disney for taking the lead. Integrative medicine and alternative health care is increasing in predominance in the United States and needs to be showcased so consumers know traditional medicine is not the only option available.” According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) – the federal government’s lead agency for scientific research on complementary and alternative medicine – 62% of adults in America are using some form of complementary and alternative medicine.
Rhimes and the Grey’s Anatomy writers continue to show value in alternative medicine. A January 10th episode, “Lay Your Hands on Me” featured a patient who was a faith healer who is shown as healing or assisting in the healing of other patients, herself, and even the infant son of one of the surgeons.
Also on ABC, is new show Pushing Daisies whose female lead bakes pies with homeopathic remedies to reduce the depression of her aunts who believe she is dead.
If the pilot episode of Eli Stone is any indication of the way entertainment is embracing alternative medicine then Dr. Chen’s words to Eli should ring true, “Everything has two explanations: scientific and divine. We choose which one to believe.”
Hill applauds the writers and creators, as well as the studios and networks, “I think that it’s very courageous and forward-thinking to show the other side of healthcare. In the face of potentially losing Big Pharma advertising or dealing with knee-jerk reactions from medical societies who are afraid of losing their turf, it’s important that content is not dictated by financial incentives.”
AAHF encourages viewers to write to ABC/Disney and the individual shows and express support for their bold support of alternative medicine.
Hill adds, “The discussions that characters are now engaging in on TV about alternative medicine and healthcare options are ones that we should be having with friends and family as well as with our practitioner. Many individuals turn to alternative medicine after traditional medicine has “failed” them. It’s important to find a practitioner who you’re comfortable discussing your health options and alternative medicine.”
About AAHF*
Founded in 1992, The American Association for Health Freedom (AAHF) is the politically active voice at the federal and state level for the right of the consumer to choose and the practitioner to practice. Their website, www.anh-usa.org has information and alerts concerning health freedom issues on the state, federal, and international levels.
*In 2009 AAHF merged with The Alliance for Natural Health to become The Alliance for Natural Health USA