There is more than one avenue to health care.. Understanding that we have choices and learning about some of those choices can have a huge impact on our health. It is not just a one way street of get sick and go see an MD, even thou the huge majority of people seem to think so. Yet, there are so many other paths available. Besides Conventional, there is Alternative medicine, Complementary medicine, and Functional medicine.
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The conventional medical community, in general, see’s us as a machine that needs a specialist for different parts of our body. This outlook is quite different than the “alternative” community who tend to see us as a whole system working together. They prefer to look at the whole picture. Everything that makes up our body is connected. One part does not work without the input and cooperation of the rest.
What is Alternative Medicine? In short it means any health treatment not standard in conventional medicine and used independently of conventional. What is Complementary Medicine? In short it is alternative treatments used together with conventional medicine. Examples might be, Chiropractic care and physical therapy.
Beyond that, complementary and alternative therapies are difficult to define, mostly because the field is so diverse. Both can include the following: acupuncture, Alexander technique, aromatherapy, Ayurveda (Ayurvedic medicine), biofeedback, chiropractic medicine, diet therapy, herbalism, holistic nursing, homeopathy, hypnosis, massage therapy, meditation, naturopathy, nutritional therapy, osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT), Qi gong (internal and external Qiging), reflexology, Reiki, spiritual healing, Tai Chi, traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and yoga.
And lets not forget the Naturopath Doctor (ND). Naturopathic medicine is a health care profession that emphasizes prevention, treatment and optimal health with methods that encourage the individuals’ inherent self-healing process.
They attend an accredited naturopathic medical college. The education curricula includes the same biomedical and diagnostic sciences as both MDs and DOs receive, (PLUS) some areas of study that are not covered in conventional medical school. Put it all together and they receive a very rigorous, and comprehensive scientific medical education. It is both comparable and complementary to conventional medicine.
They learn how to support a person’s self-healing process instead of just suppressing symptoms. They prefer to work at identifying the underlying cause of illness and then develop a personalized treatment plan that provides the greatest benefit with the least potential damage.
The therapies can include such things as clinical nutrition, botanical medicines, constitutional hydrotherapy, homeopathy, lifestyle changes, acupuncture, and orthomolecular therapy (meaning the use of vitamins, mineral, and other supplements).
They will refer patients to conventional MDs when need be, while at the same time, using supportive or complementary therapies to decrease side effects as in the case of chemo as an example. They are also trained in the use of pharmaceutical drugs when necessary. Depending on their state license they may prescribe themselves. Otherwise they will refer to your conventional doctor.
It can be very helpful to have more than one opinion. One can complement the other and we may be healthier for it.
NOTE: Most of this article is from my recent book – you may want to grab it: Breaking Free From The Medical Matrix …
Linda Carlson – Certified Nutrition & Wellness Counselor (retired) with 25+ years background.
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