How the Flexner Report Took Over Modern Medicine

How the Flexner Report Took Over Modern Medicine

Why is alternative medicine often viewed as “woo woo” or “quackery” in America? Alternate medicine such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used successfully for thousands of years and is still used in other countries today - so why does Western medicine tend to look down its nose at anything labeled “holistic?”

To answer this question, we need to take a step back and look at the Flexner Report which shaped modern medicine in the West.

The Flexner Report and How It Changed Healthcare

Commissioned by the Carnegie Foundation in 1908 and authored by Abraham Flexner, the Flexner Report set out to evaluate medical education in the United States and Canada. However, its consequences fundamentally reshaped the landscape of Western medicine and healthcare.

The Flexner Report aimed to standardize medical education, rooting out what was considered “subpar” institutions and promoting a more rigorous, uniform approach to training physicians. This laid the groundwork for what we now recognize as Western modern medicine, but it carried a bias that put down more natural, alternative approaches.

Abraham Flexner did not hide his disdain for non-conformist forms of medicine. In his report, he attacked alternative approaches, branding them as “charlatanism” and "quackery."

Repercussions of Flexner's crusade against alternative medicine were brutal. 82 medical institutions were targeted and closed in the U.S., leaving only 66 standing. Nearly 80% of programs in homeopathy, naturopathy, eclectic therapy, physical therapy, osteopathy, and chiropractic were shut down [1]. Some practitioners were even put in prison. Herbal medicines were put on the sidelines and could not be patented since they did not provide profits for pharmaceuticals.

The Influence of Rockefeller on the Flexner Report

The rise of Western medicine and fall of natural, holistic medicine was not due to Flexner's influence alone. The deep pockets of industrialists, especially the Rockefeller family, cemented the dominance of allopathic medicine. Rockefeller's huge financial backing incentivized medical schools and hospitals to align with the standards set forth by the Flexner Report.

Rockefeller held a monopoly around the oil industry at the same time that chemists learned that petrochemicals could be used in pharmaceuticals. Profit motives intertwined with medical innovation, tilting the scales toward allopathic treatments instead of natural approaches. Rockefeller wanted to own the medical sector, so he worked to make allopathic medicine the standard and founded the Council on Medical Education. It was at this point Abraham Flexner was employed to assess medical schools and create the Flexner Report.

As a result, alternative medicine was pushed to the fringes of mainstream healthcare. Its practitioners, once well-respected, became marginalized voices in the medical community.

The Revival of Ayurveda

The good news? Ayurveda is making a comeback!

Even with all of modern medicine’s advancements, patients have been growing increasingly dissatisfied. As information becomes more widespread, they are realizing that the West has a major over-reliance on pharmaceuticals, leading to unwanted side effects and treatments that focus on surface-level symptoms instead of the root cause. As a result, many have started turning back to alternative medicine, such as Ayurveda, to explore natural approaches to health.

What makes Ayurveda a trustworthy system compared to modern medicine?

  1. Preventive Healthcare: Ayurveda focuses on preventive healthcare and helping the body maintain balance and harmony. There is an increasing awareness about the importance of preventive medicine for chronic diseases, creating an interest in Ayurvedic principles of diet, lifestyle, and stress management for immunity and longevity.
  2. Globalization and Cross-Cultural Exchange: Advances in communication and travel have allowed greater cross-cultural exchange, leading to a global awareness of traditional healing systems like Ayurveda. As a result, Ayurveda is gaining traction in Western countries, where it was once marginalized or dismissed. Take a look at Ayurveda’s timeline across history!
  3. Scientific Validation and Research: There has been a growing body of scientific research validating Ayurvedic treatments for various health conditions. Studies investigating the therapeutic benefits of Ayurvedic herbs, formulations, and practices provide empirical evidence for their use in healthcare, which is helping validate Ayurveda in the eyes of skeptics and healthcare professionals.
  4. Integration into Mainstream Healthcare: Ayurveda is now being integrated into mainstream healthcare systems as complementary and alternative medicine. Hospitals and clinics in both Eastern and Western countries are offering Ayurvedic treatments alongside conventional medicine to provide patients with more inclusive options.
  5. Rising Demand for Holistic Solutions: As people become more aware of how stress, environmental pollution, and lifestyle-related diseases affect their lives, there is a growing demand for holistic wellness solutions that address the root causes of illness. Ayurveda's emphasis on individualized care, mind-body connection, and natural remedies resonates with this desire for natural health.

We believe that both modern and alternative medicine have a place in healing - we also believe that everyone has the right to know the full history and intent behind their healthcare.

When you Take Your Potion, you can rest assured that you are putting clean ingredients into your body that support immunity, nourishment, and good health. Ayurveda is not “quackery” - it is a way of life that has been used for thousands of years with success.