Documentaries About Alternative Medicine

Documentaries About Alternative Medicine

Documentaries About Alternative Medicine. By Frankie Wallace.

No doubt about it: hospital dramas are the best. There’s nothing like medicine to ratchet up the emotion in a film or television series. There are few storylines able to capture an audience’s attention or pull at their heartstrings like that of a young hero battling the odds to overcome a devastating injury or a beautiful heroine bravely waging war against an incurable disease.

But life is not the movies. And confronting illness or injury is often far different in the real world than it is in fictional films. If you want proof, then you need look no further than the myriad eye-opening, mind-changing documentaries on alternative medicine that have emerged in recent years.



These masterworks will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about health, wellness, disease, and death. And they may just change forever the way you look at and engage with the modern healthcare industry.

A Leaf of Faith (2018)

A Leaf of Faith takes on the modern pharmaceutical industry and the (some would say intentional) complicity of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in instigating or at least perpetuating the opioid crisis. The film is about the healthcare industry’s efforts to quash the use of kratom, a plant widely used worldwide for its pain-relieving properties

Juxtaposing the stories of chronic pain sufferers who have been helped by kratom with the brutal reality of the thousands of lives lost each year to synthetic opioids, the film raises a lot of disturbing questions, similar to those raised in the documentary How to Survive a Plague, which chronicles the FDA’s efforts to delay or deny the approval of HIV/AIDs drugs at the height of the epidemic. 

A Leaf of Faith raises troubling questions about the power of the healthcare industry. And among the most significant of those questions may well be whether government regulations are, in fact, denying a potentially life-saving medication to people in pain, just for the sake of profit?

Take Your Pills (2018)

Take Your Pills is another documentary that casts a critical eye on the pharmaceutical industry in particular and the modern healthcare system in general. The award-winning film examines the advent of Adderall, its prolific use to “control” disruptive behavior in children, and its even greater ubiquity on college campuses and in the modern workplace. 

The film argues that in today’s hypercompetitive environment, Adderall has become the drug of choice for those seeking a performance advantage. Rather than cultivating a lifestyle that promotes success through wellness, such as getting replenishing sleep, healthy exercise, and good nutrition,we’re trained to “take our pills” to get what we need. 

This is the disease model that makes, and keeps, us dependent on drugs and doctors. And that’s the model that keeps the pharmaceutical industry in business and the execs in their mansions. 

The Business of Disease (2014)

If the documentaries described take a critical view of the healthcare industry, then The Business of Disease is downright subversive. The film features some of the most acclaimed voices in alternative and naturopathic medicine, who make compelling, if disheartening, arguments that modern medicine is not, in fact, in the business of helping people. Rather, it’s in the business of making money.

And to do that, they suggest, they’re waging war on alternative medicine. Above all, the film suggests, alternative and naturopathic medicines give patients the power of choice and that threatens the authority — and, consequently, the money-making ability — of the modern healthcare industry. Modern healthcare, the film implies, sustains itself by keeping patients compliant, uninformed, and lacking in confidence in order to keep its hold over their health and their wallets.

The C Word (2016)

No question about it, cancer is a fear that haunts us all. But the documentary, The C Word, looks at this menace in a new way, challenging our most deeply held beliefs about the role of modern science and medicine in preventing and treating cancer. Above all, it examines the role of holistic medicine and an approach that combines alternative and modern practices, in combating the disease. It suggests that adopting a lifestyle inspired by alternative medicine, including stress management and toxin avoidance, can be a powerful weapon in this ancient fight.

The Takeaway

Health is perhaps our greatest wealth, the most important blessing we can wish for ourselves and our loved ones. In fictional films and television series, the fight to overcome sickness and injury makes for fantastic drama and irresistible stories. In real life, however, the stories are much different. Documentaries on alternative medicine have illuminated the power of the modern healthcare industry. 

They have cast into stark relief the impact that the pharmaceutical industry has had on people’s lives — and their deaths. And they have explored the complex, often conflicted relationship between alternative and modern medicine, seeking to restore, perhaps, the power of patients and families looking for solutions beyond the traditional healthcare system.


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