September 15, 2008
More Americans Turning to Holistic Medicine
By Michelle Dynes
Types of complementary and alternative medicineNaturopathic medicine - Naturopathy supports the body's ability to heal through diet and lifestyle changes. Traditional Chinese medicine - Practitioners believe that disease is the result of disruptions and imbalances. Herbs, meditation, massage and acupuncture attempt to restore order. Mind-body medicine - Practitioners study the interactions among the brain, mind, body and behavior.
By Michelle Dynes
CHEYENNE - Americans spend more than $2 trillion each year to treat the symptoms of chronic disease.
But 70 percent of the nation's deaths are still the result of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Dan Young from The Country Doctor Wellness Center thinks the root of the problem is penicillin. The arrival of the "wonder drug" taught patients to expect health from a pill.
He said in a quick-fix society, it's difficult for people to realize that they can take responsibility for their wellbeing.
But more and more Americans are turning to alternative and holistic healers to supplement traditional health care. More than a third of all patients visit chiropractors, acupuncturists and nutrition therapists. And practitioners in Cheyenne are helping patients find new ways to overcome stress, insomnia and digestive problems.
"What drives people here isn't so much inspiration as desperation," Young said.
Patients often turn to him after traditional treatments and medications failed to help them get better. For 10 years, he has assessed the nutritional needs of local patients.
While everyone knows the importance of eating healthy, few people follow the prescribed dietary guidelines. Young added that chemicals cannot give the body everything that it needs to restore and rebuild damaged cells.
As a certified nutrition counselor and traditional naturopathic doctor, he works with patients to complete daily food reviews and symptom surveys. He said he does not diagnose illness but instead helps carbohydrate addicts and sugar junkies find a healthier lifestyle.
But the approach is not an overnight solution.
"It takes three to six months just to make a dent in someone's dietary habits," Young said. "(Daily diet is) the most important (part of overall health), but it's the last thing (clients) think of. We've become quick-fix oriented. Take this pill to fix that ill. Unfortunately, we cannot just take a pill or mix something into a drink and feel great."
He added that nutrition counseling is comparable to a gym membership - it's another way to stay healthy. The cost depends on the finalized patient plan and whether a client's insurance company covers alternative health therapies.
Western medicine is geared toward treating the symptoms and not the root of the problem, said Vickie Deag. As a medical intuitive, she uses meditation, aromatherapy and pain management to help patients reduce the signs of stress.
She also has been invited by groups such as the American Cancer Society to speak about the benefits of alternative therapies.
Deag said that while the Tibetan healing method is more than 10,000 years old, it's understandable that some people remain skeptical. But she was encouraged to learn more after her first energy cleansing 15 years ago.
Deag said she works with the body's energy systems to produce physical and emotional wellbeing. Stress often leads to headaches and muscle pain. Deep relaxation helps harried clients unwind.
"When we are de-stressed and happy, illness cannot invade our space," she said. "Your outlook can affect your recovery."
Elizabeth Rhodes of the Turning Point Clinic said some patients may not like the side effects of medication and seek another way to alleviate their discomfort.
Certified in acupuncture and Oriental medicine, she works with the body's natural networks to balance the nervous system and reduce pain. The approach also promotes relaxation and increases blood circulation.
She added that while Wyoming does not license acupuncturists, people who are interested should look for a practitioner who is regulated through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Acupuncturists also may hold licenses from another state such as Colorado, California or Texas.
"For safety and the best benefits, (acupuncturists) should be trained and educated," Rhodes said.
Jim Rubino of Wind River Bioscan in Laramie said electro- acupuncture helped his son 17 years ago when nothing else seemed to work. It also inspired him to become an EAV practitioner. Every other Wednesday, he brings his expertise to Cheyenne during clinic sessions at the health and diet food retailer It's Only Natural.
Low-voltage circuits pass through acupuncture points to measure the body's stress responses and find the root of a problem. For example, a bacterial infection could be the cause of a sluggish liver.
Using the results, Rubino recommends a combination of lifestyle changes, herbs and supplements. But while the evaluative tool is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, he said the treatment is not meant to replace traditional physician visits.
"You have to be a medical doctor to make a diagnosis, no matter what your credentials are," Rubino said.
But these types of methods can complement traditional care and offer an alternative to more invasive procedures.
Young said in 1974 a new treatment was offered to cure Parkinson's disease for his grandfather. Surgeons cut the nerves in his wrists to eliminate the tremors. The shaking stopped, but he could no longer use his hands.
Young said it seemed that the cure was worse than the condition. He added that illness is financially, emotionally and physically draining, and it comes as no surprise that many patients want to take a more active role in their recovery.
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