Summary: A broader focus on overall wellbeing has been core to health care practices in a number of countries in the east for centuries, however, it has become more mainstream globally too. The complementary and alternative medicine market was estimated to be US$117 billion in 2022 rising 5x by 2030. But that is really talking about 'provided services'. What we really need to understand is our overall approach and how we think about health and well-being. The most common approach in the west is an allopathic approach that focuses on treating specific symptoms or illnesses; in many eastern countries the approach is holistic treating the whole person rather than just their illness or symptoms. We look at those two approaches in more detail, some of their pros and cons and how a resultant focus on prevention (building resilience) can reduce the amount of treatment that is needed.
Why this is important: The whole approach to health and well-being could move from one focused on treatment to prevention; from allopathic (focus on specific ailments) to holistic. If we do start living longer, and in better health, there will be knock-on effects to society, family, education and productivity.
The big theme: The ongoing survival of the human species is one of the ultimate sustainability themes. Understanding the broad spectrum of influences on human ageing and well-being can help us understand areas for investment as well as individual choices that we can make.
In November 2014 I travelled to Jakarta for several days of meetings with Indonesian companies, accompanying European based investors. Whenever I travel I always like to eat as locally as possible and this trip was no exception. That meant rice at breakfast, as well as lunch and dinner. It's possible that was a mistake on my part as I ended up being constipated for the next ten days. That's right. Ten days. I took over-the-counter laxatives, I visited my doctor, but they, like my bowels, were stumped.
Then my boss at the time suggested I visit (actually she dragged me to) her Chinese doctor, Dr Mei. I went with a hugely sceptical mindset. After an acupuncture and cupping session I felt noticeably better. A few hours later, 'movement' resumed.
Dr Mei told me that she had rebalanced me by redistributing and balancing the electrical charge in my nervous system with the acupuncture and promoted blood and fluid circulation with the cupping. She explained how the procedures worked in a very scientific way. It made logical sense to me. It wasn't 'mystical'.