Alternative Medicine in Fiction

Behold, I am your human pincushion!

No, I haven’t joined the freak show at the circus . . . tempting as that may be sometimes. I embarked on a course of acupuncture the other day to treat my hip bursitis. No one enjoys hobbling around, least of all me. My general practitioner gave me cortisone-esque shots in both hips, and I was feeling marginally better. But then my friend Laura was all, “Hey, let me stick needles in you!”

Maybe it didn’t go exactly like that (the bit with Laura, anyway), but the end result is the same: I had my first acupuncture appointment on Tuesday. I have three more to go for this particular treatment. I had acupuncture once before, years ago–Laura worked on my shoulder after a dragon boat-related strain.20100928 AlphaCityAcupunks-3

As a rule, I’m not that into alternative medicine. It’s not that I don’t believe it can work . . . it’s just that I tend not to be sick or hurt that often, and traditional medicine usually works just fine for me. In this case, I’m taking a super aggressive approach–I want to get back to training for a sprint triathlon.

I got to thinking while I was on Laura’s table (as you do when someone is jabbing you with needles) that you don’t see a lot of alternative medicine in fiction. I can’t think of a novel with either a protagonist who is an acupuncturist or contains a character who takes herbal medicine. The closest I can get (keeping in mind I haven’t read every book in the world) are the quack cures from the 1800s in Beth Kephart’s Dr. Radway’s Sarsparilla Resolvent, or chiropractors or midwives, which I’ve seen in various novels. Am I just reading the wrong things? Where are all the biofield therapists, reiki therapists, and guided imagery-ists?

Know of a novel rife with alternative medicine? Let me know!




One Response

  1. In the Outlander novels, by Diana Gabaldon, one of the main characters is craaaaaazy seasick and it is treated (mostly against his will) with acupuncture. There are also some very “alternative” forms of medicine taking place, since the bulk of the story takes place in the 1700s.

    Of course the novel also features time travel and magical stones, so there’s that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.