FOR THE PAST DECADES, conventional medicine (the ones you would most likely to find in a clinic or a hospital) has always had a problem towards complementary and alternative medicine. The conventional doctors regard them as quacks or health gurus when the fact is this form of medicine has been used for many centuries before conventional drugs and procedures. What they could not agree on is that ‘modern’ medicine regards scientific evidence as the sole criteria for a certain treatment to be useful, but as CAM focuses on helping heal the body, the end results may not be statistical prominent to be considered effective.
THE HISTORY OF INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE started with Dr. Andrew Weil, a doctor with conventional medical education but has strong interest in CAM, especially botanical herbs. He suggested an open minded approach towards the process of treating and healing. In integrative medicine, the physician is well trained in conventional medicine, but yet is open towards all kinds of other natural therapies. And doing so, he can decide whether to use a natural therapy or drugs according to the patient’s expectations, responses and compliance.
Today, many major academic institutions have started incorporating the integrative mindset in their medical education, and a handful of medical centers have since started establishing integrative clinics in their practice. University of Arizona remains to be the leader, with Dr. Weil and many of his students working in it. The physicians does look scientifically at both the conventional drugs and the alternative therapies, but still be cautious not to be misled by scientific papers which can easily give a wrong interpretation with a play in statistics.
THE PHYSICIANS IN THE CENTER typically interview a new patient for 90 minutes. They would first ask the patient’s detailed history and expectations, and then discuss with them the approaches and suggestions that are in for them. The physican lists out medical concerns that the patients have, and then focus on those that the patient regard as most important, and has the most confidence to deal with. The goal is to help the patient notice all the problems he or she has, giving them a plan on how to improve, tracking their changes and ultimately empower them with enough knowledge to keep themselves fit and healthy.
The prescription can range from a dietary change, to a herbal tincture, to a acupuncture session, to a mind-body therapy, or even conventional drugs and procedures. The idea is to stay open about your choices, and weigh out the pros and cons of each, and then choose a most suitable yet the least invasive ones to try first. The patients that come to the clinic are quite enthusiastic and motivated to improve their health, and thus, it is not difficult, with proper education, for them to finally live healthy and prosperous lives.
I REALLY DO HOPE I GET TO BECOME AN INTEGRATIVE PHYSICIAN someday. The integrative mindset itself is an asset, no matter which specialty you are in.
*** CAM of the day ***
Every one has canker sores throughout their lives, they are the frustrating aphthous ulcers that grow in our lips, tongues and palates. It is amazing how we still do not know the reason behind these sores, but we do know that they come popping up when there is more stress or when we are having a bad diet. Without treatment, these sores go away within a couple of weeks. Vitamin B12 is associated with recurrent canker sores so taking a supplement with that may actually help prevent them. German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is found in a study to be effective towards pain relief. Traditional chinese medicine also has wonderful herbal mouthwash to treat the sores therapeutically and symptomatically.