This is a post infused with no small amount of irony. Why? Because I want to implore my fellow lovers and practitioners of natural health modalities to move beyond their fear of technology. I want to shout it from this electronic pulpit with all my heart – raining the sweet revolution down upon them, liberating themselves from the tyranny of a luddite existence.
Most of all, I want to sell them – US – on the amazing potential of technology in general, and the Internet in particular. This is ironic, of course, because most of them won’t read this.
Why? Oh god, why? I don’t know. It seems that among natural medicine practitioners, those most likely to embrace the Internet sell mostly herbal Viagra-type products or are chiefly interested in weight loss. It’s a crying shame, my friends. A crying shame.
I will put my call out there, though, in hopes that it will reach the ears of some of my colleagues. To make it easy on the eyes I will keep it short and digestible. Without further ado – I present my Top 5 Reasons Natural Medicine practitioners (and students, and consumers!) need to embrace the Internet.
- Ease of delivery of information. This is the same reason it is advocated for any sector of society. If you have information you need to get out there (and who doesn’t?) the Internet is a cheap, effective and efficient way of getting it out there. With blogging software, wiki creation programs and the glut of web designers looking for work our options are WIDE OPEN. Internet usage is only going to increase – people are beginning to surf the web on their handhelds and cell phones, free Internet is becoming ubiquitous in many parts of the US… getting on board with this easy method of communication can only help our mission – to bring human-scale healthcare to the maximum number of people possible.
- Natural medicine is often left out of traditional media like newspapers. This will sound familiar to anyone in a marginalized political or social movement. In many ways, the Internet has democratized media in a way I certainly couldn’t have predicted. Anyone can put their voice out there (mixed blessing, yes) and a group of dedicated, well-spoken folks with some tech expertise or help on that front can put their voice out there and get it both HEARD and RESPECTED. This can be a way into more traditional media as well, particularly if an online movement gains significant momentum.
- Do we really want to leave it to the herbal viagrists? Now, my mother taught me to be positive and this is a negatively worded reason – but bear with me. At this point, Western medicine and people peddling “alternative” medicines of varying quality and efficacy dominate the health niche on the Internet. Thus, when a person types in “help with depression” they are likely to be pointed either in the direction of various and sundry pharmaceuticals or in the direction of whatever holistic-light-therapy-colloidial-moonstone remedy happens to be being promoted at the moment. Either of these options may be ok for some folks – but expanding the availability of excellent information on the Internet about natural healthcare expands the options accessed by average people. This should be our goal.
- The creation of community. Unless you live in Portland or a similar town, you may be the only natural healthcare practitioner in your area – or at least one of very few. While the type of community created via the Internet can sometimes be less than healthy, the ability to make it positive is in the hands of individuals. By the creation of blogs, blog networks, websites, blogrolls, forums and other centers of communication we can network, share information and be supported by people who share our vision and values even when they’re 1,000 miles away.
- Financial opportunities abound: Between blog monetization, creation of easily available affiliate programs, online sales of products and the ability to promote your brick-and-mortar business – the ability for natural health practitioners to make money using the Internet is significant. You don’t need to be a web design genius to use any of these features. Diversification of income streams is good for your long term stability and, thus, is good for your patients. No one is served by your going out of business.
So if you’re out there, friends, if you’re out there reading this and DYING to get off the computer – stop. Stop for a second and take a deep breath. Find a way to make friends with your computer and consider for a moment the infinite possibilities this whole new world represents. When you’re ready to get something going – drop me an email. 😉
About Eric Grey
Hi - I'm the founder of this site and the primary master of all functions here. When I'm not writing, you can find me reaching out to the Chinese Medicine community across the web and in my own backyard. I currently teach Chinese herbs at my alma mater, the National College of Natural Medicine. Additionally, I'm the founder of Watershed Wellness, a thriving local clinic in Southeast Portland in Oregon. No matter where I'm working, you'll find my focus on the Classical approach to Chinese medicine laced throughout everything I do.