When you sprain an ankle your body sends more blood to the area of injury. The immune cells in this blood work to rid the body of dead or damaged tissue to make way for healing. Without inflammation, injuries would never heal. It’s easy to imagine inflammation for something big like a sprained ankle; we see the swelling, feel the pain, and wonder how long until our ankle will look more like an ankle again and less like a pineapple.
Diabetes. In America, nearly 80 people a day will sit down with their doctors and be told that they have this life-long and life-threatening disease. Like many diseases, however, it doesn’t happen overnight. No one goes to sleep perfectly healthy and wakes up the next morning with diabetes. You develop it from gradual changes in your body due to diet and lifestyle. Fortunately, those changes can be detected before permanent effects settle in. Years before.
Meditation has countless benefits on your health and life in general. Here are some great reasons to make meditation a part (even if it is a small part) of your daily rountine.
Let’s face it, when faced with a multitude of options, it’s easy to leave decision-making up to the close-your-eyes and point method. This might be an OK way to decide which party to attend or which pair of pants to wear, but when it comes to choosing an integrative health care practitioner, it’s probably wiser to make an informed decision.
Integrative health care, also known as alternative or complementary medicine, used to be seen as a rejection of mainstream medicine because consumers often chose to rely solely on the alternative – like homeopathy or Reiki. Since then, many consumers have taken a more integrative approach by augmenting, rather than replacing, their primary health care with alternative practices.
Over time, mainstream physicians have also become more accepting of the integrative approach, even without conclusive clinical evidence, because consumers are demanding it and claiming better health outcomes. Integrative Medicine is now taught, practiced and researched in nearly half the medical schools in the country, including many leading universities such as Duke and Stanford. And, recent evidence showing the success of Integrative Medicine in clinical studies has brought it into the conversation on health care reform as well.
Because of its growing acceptance and popularity, there are many more integrative health care practitioners to choose from which can be overwhelming when it comes to deciding who to work with.
What’s the best way to go about finding an integrative health practitioner? Everyone has their own unique approach to decision-making. People also come to their need for alternative medicine from many different angles. You may have witnessed a friend with a similar health issue recover dramatically, and want to pursue that option yourself. Or your health care provider may be recommending an alternative approach in addition to their care. Or you may have heard about it on TV or through other media sources. Whichever way you come to it and no matter how you tend to make decisions, here are some basic guidelines to help in your process.
1. It’s important (as always) to have a goal. In other words, don’t do it just because everyone else is doing it or don’t follow someone else’s protocol. Know for yourself what your issue is, why you want to pursue an alternative therapy and what your expectations and boundaries are.
2. Do a little research. Look into this practice and find out what it is and what types of issues it’s best suited for.
3. Get a referral if you can. It may come through a friend who has worked with someone who was helpful. Or ask your primary health care provider for a referral. A hospital or medical school near you may have a listing of local practitioners either online or by request. Also, there are many professional organizations for specific practitioner groups which are great resources. A good place to start is the Alternative Medicine Foundation or The Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine (FAIM).
4. Shop around. Once you have a few practitioners in mind, look into their education and experience. If they have a website, check out their credentials. Call them up for more information about cost, and if they’re amenable, ask some questions about their experience treating patients with problems similar to yours, and their philosophy of care.
5. Make an appointment. At your first meeting, you could ask about benefits, risks, scientific studies to back up this therapy’s use, and how long treatment will take. Consider how comfortable you are with the person, how confident you feel in their abilities, and how well you feel they answered your questions.
Relax and engage in the process once you’ve found someone you like, respect and trust. It’s your body, mind and spirit and you are a partner with your health care practitioners in your own well-being. Feel good knowing you’re doing something positive for yourself.
Faced with a dizzying array of health issues and options, consumers are increasingly choosing to combine the best of western medicine with other practices such as acupuncture and Chinese herbs. This broader approach, known as integrative, complementary or alternative medicine has the potential to offer consumers more benefits and better health than conventional medicine alone.
This is one of the reasons why a perceptible shift has occurred in the way people address their health and wellness needs. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) 38 percent of adults and about 12 percent of children under 18 used some form of alternative medicine in 2007.The same study showed that out-of-pocket spending on complementary and alternative medicines was estimated at $34 billion in a single year.
So what exactly are they spending their money on? Integrative medicine is a broad term that includes many different methods and modalities. What unifies them is an approach that puts the patient at the center of care, and takes into account the full range of influences on a person’s health — physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental factors.
Integrative medicine might include acupuncture, tai chi, deep breathing and other relaxation techniques to reduce pain and stress; nutritional and herbal supplements to manage disease, boost immune function and optimize health; and group support, yoga and meditation to change unhealthy habits.
Although Integrative Medicine may be considered a brand-new approach, the fundamentals come from longstanding practices. Disciplines include Chinese medicine, meditation and yoga as well as ancient herbal healing remedies that have been used for millennia. It is also informed by modern knowledge from other disciplines like psychology, nutrition, physical fitness, and environmental health. All of this collective wisdom across disciplines and through the ages come together to increase our health today.
This offers many advantages for a consumer.
- First, integrative medicine takes a holistic approach, which is lacking in our current medical system. Typically, a patient has a different specialist addressing each of their health issues separately, which obscures the big picture. This increases the possibility of important clues falling through the cracks that might have led to a cure.
- Second, our health is not a matter of body alone. Mind, body and spirit are interconnected and each play a role. All aspects of a person’s life affect their health. Ideally, Integrative Medicine does not treat symptoms alone but tries to get at the root of the problem.
- A third benefit of the holistic approach is that practitioners tend to spend more time getting to know and understand the patient, which helps them treat the patient more effectively. For instance, at Duke Integrative Medicine, Integrative Health Coaches are an essential part of their healthcare team. These coaches form a supportive, structured partnership with the participant which facilitates successful health outcomes.
Because Integrative Medicine includes lots of different therapeutic options, it also means more patients can find a solution to their particular health issue. Fewer patients are disappointed, more patients are helped. For instance, people respond differently to treatment. Whereas one diabetes patient may have a successful outcome with insulin shots alone, another might need more support if their baseline health is not as good. They could benefit from working with a nutritionist and by taking herbal supplements that strengthen their circulation or ability to stabilize sugar levels.
Another example might be a patient with fibromyalgia or cancer who is dealing with a lot of physical pain that negatively affects their emotions which in turn might hinder the healing process. This patient could be helped with guided meditation or relaxation techniques to reduce pain and stress.
The most important aspect of integrative medicine is the idea that each of us has within us an innate capacity for healing that can be supported and enhanced in order that we can each experience an organic and optimal vitality. We at WellnessFX support all methods which put you in control of your health.