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Is alternative medicine a part of your life?

By December 10, 2008 - 11:24am
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A new U.S. government surgey released today says that about 38 percent of adults and 12 percent of children in the United States use some kind of complementary and alternative medicine.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a term for all the parts of health, wellness and medicine that aren't considered "traditional" in Western medicine. It includes chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, herbal supplements and meditation.

For the survey, more than 23,300 adults were interviewed about their use of CAM; more than 9,400 were asked about their children. The number of adults using cam increased by just 2 percent over 2002, but use of techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, massage therapy, and yoga increased significantly.

Adults use CAM most often to treat pain, including back pain, neck pain or problems, joint pain and arthritis. They most often used supplements that contained fish oil/omega 3/DHA, glucosamine, echinacea, flaxseed oil or pills, and ginseng.

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Do you fall into the 38% of American adults who use some form of alternative medicine along with conventional medicine? Has it made a difference in your life?

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I first started using homeopathy and natural medecine on my dogs for allergies and through this method, began to really think about what "health" truly is. It seems so simple to me now....it's a strong, responsive immune system. I truly believe now that western drugs compromise the immune system. It's very clear to see it in the dogs. My little scottie developed an acid reflux problem from antibiotics. The problem is clearning with natural medecine, raw meat(only) and homeopathy.
Now I am a little obsessed. I am actually nervous of allopathic medecine!
Beside the contraceptive pill(the lesser of many evils), I don't let ANY drugs pass my lips.
I believe that natural, organic foods, mostly vegan with a little fish for fatty acids is the way to go for me, a homeopathic doctor and only in an extreme emergency,like a leg hanging off, an allopathic doctor.

December 11, 2008 - 11:40pm

I am a supporter and active user of natural approaches to treating medical conditions. But I also recognize that at times certain drugs are needed such as antibiotics to fight bacterial infections.

My introduction to CAM therapies happened back in 1999 when a series of health problems could not be diagnosed by what I called mainstream medicine (vice calling it traditional medicine). With a serious mercury poisoning problem that affected my whole family and the inability of mainstrem medicine to diagnose it (there is not heavy metals treatment protocol in today's healthcare system i.e mercury toxicity), I was forced to seek care elsewhere. I ended up with a doctor who was familiar with detoxification of heavy metals but practiced "alternative" medicine that required "alternative" testing protocols to detect the mercury in my body and my hubby and children's bodies. My mainstream doctor was in shock whe she learned the results and how she had failed to diagnose mercury toxicity for over a year! She later decided to start testing for mercury levels on other patients who had presented with similar symptoms. She later joined an organization of physicians who practice and offer educational conferences on CAM therapies and she was in awe to learn so many new things her medical school had not come close to teaching.

My experience with CAM therapies was a last and desperate recourse to find out the cause of my symptoms. I did not know anything about CAM as I was a "mainstream" healthcare professional at that time. But my personal experience was enough to make me a believer that something was wrong with the inability of the healthcare system to diagnose my problem.

A couple of medical episodes in my life and a failure of mainstream medicine to be effective on diagnosing heavy metal toxicity gave me the reassurance that CAM therapies are worth considering as part of a back to health approach.

Evidence today is mounting on the effectiveness of CAM therapies which are better known as INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE, including Mind and Body Medicine, Alternative Therapies and Nutritional treatments. Reputable medical schools such as University of Irvine in California (http://www.sscim.uci.edu/index_2col.asp?page=13, UCLA Collaborative in Integrative Medicine (http://www.ccim.med.ucla.edu/) and University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Program that trains physicians are just a few examples of the direction our healthcare system may be heading.

Western medical education is still very narrow focus as most medical schools train doctors to "specialize" on a particular body systems as if these were independent of each other and dominated by special pharma industry interests. The future of healthcare will demand a holistic approach were the patient is at the center of the healing plan, benefitting from what I call a "comprehensive approach" to health. I am also glad to say that we have over 52 medical training schools in the US that offer CAM/Integrative Medicine curriculum.

By the way, I do not like the word "alternative" as it implies a denial of mainstream medicine. Every therapy should be integrated into a patient's care plan, especially when studies have validated evidence of effectiveness i.e. prayer, meditation, healing energy, acupuncture, nutreceuticals, among others. Chiropractic medicine used to be considered "alternative", it is now mainstresm and doctors are not longer afraid of referring patients to one. I think this trend will continue as more and more Americans seek other options for the treatment of their health conditions.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine NCCAM) is a very active agency within the National Institute of Health. Funding of this government organization has been consistent and shows that at the government level, healthcare is looking at other options as well. Here is the website for more information on the various studies conducted and underway on several "complementary" therapies. http://nccam.nih.gov/

December 10, 2008 - 11:54pm
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