American medicine kills hundreds of thousands each year. That’s not an exaggeration. Recently it was reported that hospitals kill 15,000 Americans each month. The report wasn’t from some radical fringe health reporter. No, it comes from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, those with a vested interest in keeping the status quo and not rocking the boat. They’re going to be conservative with their estimates. Additionally, the data included only those on Medicare, a fraction of patients. It excludes the vast majority of hospitalizations, so the number of those killed in hospitals is likely much, much higher. Read this carefully A very reliable source places the number of persons killed by American medicine at just under one million per year. But even if we used the conservative figure released by HHS, (15,000/month) that’s the equivalent of 60 jumbo jet crashes every month killing all on board. How long would we let an industry operate that crashed two jumbo jets full of people every day? But that is a conservative estimate of the number of people killed in hospitals. Would you willingly get on a jumbo jet with those odds? Think you might look for an alternative? So here are 10 alternatives to Western medicine that are available. You may have heard of them, but isn’t it time to learn more? Acupuncture: Time-tested by five thousand years of successfully addressing nearly every health condition imaginable, this minimally invasive branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine is powerful and remarkable medicine. With Licensed Acupuncturist or L.Ac. after the name, it means, among other things, that the practitioner is licensed by the state of Nebraska, has passed a national board exam and attended an approved college of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture is a safe, cost-effective alternative to conventional American medicine. Chiropractic: Doctors of Chiropractic paid their dues. For decades, the field was scorned as quackery by the conventional medical establishment. But the fact is, it’s now accepted and used by a huge number of people with effective results. It’s not just for back pain, either. What physical condition isn’t affected by the neurological pathways addressed by chiropractic? I’ve known infants with ear infections who benefited from pediatric adjustments. Research and the personal experience of millions shows that chiropractic works and without drugs, surgery or hospitalization. Nutrition: Probably the single-most influential activity affecting our health is what we eat. Michael Pollan sums it up: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” The key is choosing real food and that can be defined as stuff made by Nature and not man. Processed food is not real food. Learn the difference. Example: the so-called “meat” in nearly all industrial hamburger laced with ammonia and “pink slime” bears little resemblance to a burger made with meat from a pasture-raised, grass fed, antibiotic and chemical-free steer. Start with watching the film King Corn and reading Omnivore’s Dilemma . Follow that with learning about the Weston A. Price Foundation, not the final word on nutrition but certainly great information. Consulting with an institution-trained nutritionist who still believes it’s okay to eat high fructose corn syrup isn’t exactly where I would start. Massage: Even a recent advertisement for a drug company mentions the “healing power of touch.” Massage therapy, quite deservedly, has come into its own in recent years. Perhaps the most accessible and accepted form of therapy, its wide range of modalities gives it a tremendous variety of specializations. I was impressed by one recent study at UCLA finding that even a single massage treatment improves immune system function. Cancer patients have found relief from edema and pain. Regular massage therapy will lower stress levels and has been found helpful in lowering blood pressure without drugs. Herbal therapies: Herbal remedies are also very accessible and very effective. A good resource to learn more is Dr. James Duke’s The Green Pharmacy. A respected former USDA botanical expert, his work is an excellent and well-informed guide. Local herbalist Nicholas Schnell is also available. Many chiropractors and holistic physicians can also assist. Herbs are far safer than pharmaceutical drugs but can be potent. Be informed. Hypnosis: Well known as a therapeutic approach for behavior modification like smoking cessation, et cetera, hypnosis uses the power of the subconscious to effect change. It is also recognized as beneficial in a number of challenging situations related to health and can be a natural stress reliever. (Full disclosure: The author graduated from the Hypnotism Training Institute of Los Angeles and was certified by the Hypnotism Examining Council of California but is not accepting new clients.) Meditation: Many valid forms of meditation have well-researched health benefits. Transcendental Meditation and the Silva Method are two formal training methods with millions of practitioners worldwide. The Nebraska Zen Center in Omaha has regular classes. Meditation and forms of silent observation are a part of human tradition throughout history. Naturopathy: Prior to the increased influence of drugs and pharmaceutical companies in the early 20th century, naturopathy was a prevalent form of medical practice. Many states recognize it on a par with conventional medicine. The main difference is that naturopathy seeks natural ways of healing rather than surgery and drugs. Ayurveda: At least 5,000 years old, this medical practice has its roots in ancient India. It wisely bases the various healing tenets on the understanding of energy as part of life. Using nutrition, herbs and various treatments, the holistic body is balanced toward health. Two Western-trained MDs associated with ayurvedic methods include Deepak Chopra and cardiologist Dean Ornish. It’s not as easy to find an ayurvedic physician as it is to find, say, a naturopath. The vibrant community in Fairfield, Iowa — specifically a medical spa named The Raj — is a good place to seek a reference. Homeopathy: Perhaps the most misunderstood of all alternatives to Western medicine, the modality founded by Samuel Hahnemann, M.D. makes use of what Hahnemann called the “law of similars.” Despite its controversial theories, homeopathy has many advocates due to its perceived effectiveness. All of the above alternatives to conventional medicine — and many others — share a commonality: they do not use drugs or surgery to assist an outcome. Finally, if one does find oneself in a hospital, take heart. The same healing power of the mind and body that is recognized by the alternative therapies is active there as well. Be well.