Sometimes a mother’s loving touch can heal a hurt better than a pill. Can breathing and positive thinking also make us well?

The public is far ahead of medical experts and politicians on alternative medicine. A Harvard Medical School survey done 10 years ago found that more than 40 percent of Americans used some form of alternative medicine. It’s probably higher today. The study found that Americans spent as much out of pocket for alternative treatments as they did for conventional health care.

Front-line doctors — those of us who spend all day seeing patients — are also interested in alternatives. An American Psychiatric Association official told me that when they asked their physician members what they wanted to learn, alternative medicine was high on the list. Your average doctor wants alternatives to drugs — as long as they’re backed up by good research.

How did we move from the medicine man, to shamanism, to the country doctor to the idea that a pill can heal everything? Did big pharmaceutical money ruin our natural, intrinsic, healing meme?