Integrative Medicine 101

by Gregory
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If you are regular reader of Naturopathic Earth as well as Holistic Health News, you might think we hate Big Pharma and drugs in general.  Well, that is 80% true!  We have had several HHN episodes on drug cover-ups, complications, and the conflict of interest called the “Revolving Door” where many high executives at Big Pharma end up taking high-level jobs at the FDA, USDA, and CDC.  Moreover, we have discussed the concern of the insidious side-effects that the large majority of medications have.  So yes, that is all true.  With that in mind, we here at NPE do believe there is a time and place for medications, mostly in the form of Integrative Medicine 101.

What is Integrative Medicine 101?  We have a classic article on it called Integrative Medicine: The Best of Both Worlds.  We will talk about the Integrative Medicine 101 in a second, but let’s talk about how we are NOT anti-drugs.  We simply believe there is a time and place for them.

What is the time and place AND scope?  We believe medications should be used in a limited scope for acute situations.  Medications should be used to treat conditions and situations that are life-threatening where intervention is needed quickly.  Examples would be medications to speed up/decrease heart rate, clot-busting drugs, and antibiotics to treat sepsis or full-body infections.  In other words, the last resort.

Where should drugs NOT be considered?  In short, to prevent or treat mild maladies.  Great examples would be you went to the doctor and you have a slightly higher than normal blood pressure or triglyceride level.  Most allopathic doctors would prescribe you a medication for that condition and the understanding is that you could be on those drugs for DECADES to “treat” the condition.   Or the use of antidepressants or anxiety drugs when someone comes in with mild depression or anxiety.

We have issues with this indication (usage).  Why?  Because the drugs should be used as a LAST resort.  Why?  Because medications have long-term side effects and many times they are only masking a symptom of a deeper problem.  Like a Band-Aid on a cut when there is internal bleeding.

We exhort people to use less interventionist, more benign treatments prior to medications.  Depending on the malady, this could be eating cleaner ingredients, removing toxins from your life, exercise, and better sleep.   If this isn’t sufficient and if one is still having symptoms of a malady, you could implement acupuncture, botanical science (herbs), cryotherapy, chiropractic homeopathy, aromatherapy, meditation, breathing exercises, and more.  Notice that most of these techniques carry very low to no risk at all.  Juxtapose that with drugs whose side effects could run the gamut: from weight gain to blood clots; from liver failure to even suicidal thoughts.  (Read our article on the Dangers of Psychotropic Drugs.)

Sure there are possible side effects of taking specific potent herbs and essential oils, but if consulting a good naturopathic doctor or chiropractor the odds of this are slim.  Even when not consulting a medical professional, most herbs and vitamins/minerals you can get OTC won’t hurt you even when taking long-term.

And this is where we bring back Integrative Medicine 101.  Integrative Medicine 101 combines the best of both worlds.  In short, Integrative looks to use the naturopathic/alternative health arsenal to prevent disease and treat mild to moderate ailments.  Low risk…possible high reward payout.

If the treatment doesn’t work, then an Integrative Doctor could employ the weapons of standard, allopathic medicine.  What does that mostly entail?  The use of medications and surgery. 

Flip it around.  You wouldn’t want to go to a Naturopathic Doctor to use an herb to treat a gunshot wound to the chest or a blood infection.  Conversely, we wouldn’t want to cut someone’s sinus cavities up to treat a sinus infection.  Both scenarios don’t make sense!

There is a time and a place for medications and surgery.  A good Integrative Medicine doctors knows when to approach the patient’s malady with less intensive treatment options, like the naturopathic ones of clinical nutrition, sleep, herbs, and alike and when to implement the medications and surgery.  Integrative Medicine doctors are M.Ds. so they are able to prescribe drugs.  They even may be able to specialize in typical branches of medicine like orthopedics, dermatology and alike.

Perhaps the most famous proponent of Integrative Medicine is Dr. Andrew Weil.  In fact he runs an institute in Arizona that trains M.D.s in Integrative Medicine in that he trains them in the more naturopathic treatment options.  His program cranks out dozens, if not hundreds, of doctors a year.  Click Here to visit the site.  Click HERE to hear a great interview he did on Joe Rogan’s podcast.

This is the great compromise.  Most M.D.s look askance and cynically at naturopaths, chiropractors, homeopaths and alike.  Perhaps because they think there aren’t empirical studies to show their efficacy or because they are worried that these naturopaths will cut into their business.  Similarly the alternative health group think M.D.s are arrogant, myopic, and single-handed in their approach of treating every malady with “drugs & cutting.”

But here is the thing…neither camp is going anywhere.  Natural remedies and alternative health is only growing in America.  Many people are fed up with the “drug first” myopia of doctors after having seen first-hand the horrific consequences of the side effects.  They wake up one day shocked that they are taking 10 medications!  (Listen to this HHN episode on how Clinical Nutrition & Botanical Science is only taught for a semester at medical school and how Big Pharma plays a large role in that abbreviated time.)

But standard M.D.s aren’t going anywhere.   And unlike M.Ds. who largely wish the alternative health people would just go away, everyone acknowledges that we need medical doctors.  We need professionals who excel at cutting-edge surgery and pharmacology.

In short, for Integrative Medicine 101…Let’s stop the bickering between the two camps.  A happy harmony can be found.  And that compromise is Integrative Medicine.  The easiest way to make this happen is REVISE THE CURRICULUM AT MED SCHOOLS TO ALLOW MORE BOTANICAL SCIENCE, CLINICAL NUTRITION and more.  So all medical doctors would be trained in alternative health and would therefore have even more weapons at their disposal to prevent and treat diseases.  Alas, this won’t happen anytime soon since Big Pharma essentially bribes med school admins with large grants so they can have a say in the curriculum.

My suggestion to you.  Find an Integrative Medicine doctor in your area.  They are equipped in both realms.  Look at Dr. Weil’s site to find a M.D. near you.  In general, implement the mentality that anytime you have a mild or chronic problem, don’t go straight to the drugs.  Treat it using naturopathic principles.  Once you exhaust that, then contact your M.D. to go down the drug and cut route.

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