Allopathy is a term that was coined by homeopath Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). The word is used primarily by alternative medicine proponents to describe the methods of the science based medical establishment. In this way they can differentiate themselves from mainstream doctors without admitting that the main difference is the reliance of “Western” medicine on evidence and experiment instead of tradition and ideology. So called allopathic medicine is criticized as not being holistic and treating symptoms instead of patients.

How exactly this differs from altmed is unclear but it is in fact quite untrue, a good doctor will take a case history by asking relevant questions and will tailor treatments to suit taking allergies, severity of condition and increasingly even ethnicity into account. Despite what altmed practitioners would espouse modern medicine is not a cookie cutter one size fits all enterprise. The work of scientific medicine is continual to fine tune therapies and create new and better ways to improve health based on basic research and the open exchange and debate of ideas. This is in contrast to many so called alternative practices which are dogmatic and may have changed little in hundreds of years, which for some reason is touted as a good thing.

The strength of science is that it is constantly being added to, refined and revised. When something is found to be incorrect or inferior then it can be discarded or revised to always come closer and closer to the truth. Some point to this and proclaim it as a weakness that scientific knowledge is always tentative and subject to change. The response of the rational, reasonable and scientific to this charge is a resounding YES, we may be wrong, but we are at least searching for the answers.