Integrative Medicine is Here – and It’s About Time!
People are discussing the Mind-Body-Connection more frequently now – without laughing. In the past, such discussions might have included a few dismissals – “Oh, the mind-body-conection is such a woo-woo thing, “It’s kind of ‘out there.’ ” Most people thought that the connection between Mind and Body was not scientific, or tangible. In fact, the evidence is so strong that medical schools (approximately 60 in the US) and nursing schools are adding courses to their curricula that incorporate an integrative approach to health care. Indeed, many medical personnel are beginning to question the approach that nothing outside of Western Medicine or allopathic medicine can help people get healthy.
My personal experience. One time I gave a presentation at a hospital on the benefits and uses of acupuncture. During the Q & A period, I was asked this question by an older physician, “Don’t you think that your Chinese Medicine is mostly placebo?”
I turned the question around, and asked him: “If that is so, why is it so helpful for animals?” Acupuncture has been used since the early 1970’s for helping race horses heal from injuries. Besides that, it has a long and rich history (over 5,000 years) of being the main health-care system in the East, effectively treating millions of people. Great, “natural” statistics!!.
There have been studies done, where treating all aspects of health, from emotional health, dietary concerns, environmental conditions, as well as “physical health,” that people do better. This is especially true if they feel a “connection” with their caregiver/doctor.
I see a day when TCM will be used in conjunction with Western medical treatment here in the U.S. More people are requesting the services of Chinese Medicine practitioners because they are seeking a more rounded and people-centered care. Perhaps physicians could see themselves as being “at the helm” of a health care team of people who advise their patients to also see a nutritionist/dietician, acupuncturist, chiropractor, physical therapist and/or massage therapist, etc., that would help them achieve the best results. All of these people on the health care team would communicate with each other about how the patient is improving.
Here is a scenario that is totally realistic: Betty is febrile, coughing, short of breath, weak. She goes to her clinic where she is triaged to the Western Medicine doctor who takes a history, orders blood work from the lab, and orders an Xray. She’s diagnosed with bronchitis and is given a prescription for an antibiotic (but NO steroids as they are often given now). Betty is then sent over to the Chinese Medicine practitioner where she is given acupuncture and perhaps some Chinese herbal medicine to help open up her lungs so she can breathe easier. She is instructed on some medical Qi Gong that will help strengthen her lung system. She then comes in for another acupuncture visit weekly for the next 3 weeks.
I look forward to seeing this type of overall care in the future!