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Putting the Person Back into Personal Health Care

Thursday, November 16, 2006 by: By Jared Rosen and David Rippe
Tags: health care, sick care, health care industry

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Years ago, Mary made her first appointment with a holistic doctor. Prior to the visit she received an extensive questionnaire to complete. The survey covered her medical history, her family's history, dietary preferences, activities she enjoyed, and her emotional nature, among many others. She didn't realize it but she was completing a survey that integrated Western and Eastern methods for optimal health. The exercise caused Mary to consider herself in ways she rarely thought about: her sleep patterns, moods, bowel movements, reactions to stress, fears, weight gain and loss patterns, foods she enjoyed and those she avoided, her skin's reaction to sunlight, alcohol consumption, energy levels, and general outlook on life.

Just completing the forms gave Mary a sense of comfort. A new awareness took seed and a feeling of hope watered by insight sprouted. Mary remembers that first visit well: the calming music accompanied by the gently cascading water of a fountain in the waiting area, the video she watched in a patient resource library just before her session with the doctor. And then…the two hours the doctor took speaking with her, getting to know to her. She asked questions. He carefully explained the entire philosophy of wellness in terms specific to Mary.

Mary visits her doctor every six to eight weeks for wellness treatments that include massage, acupuncture, energy healing, and chiropractic work. This elevates her immune system, balances her energy and keeps her body in alignment. Each treatment is tailored to where she is at in her life at the time of her appointment. She knows the doctor, his associates, and the people who perform the various treatments.

On her doctor's recommendation Mary takes a small daily blend of vitamins and supplements to keep her body at peak performance based on her specific needs. Since her discovery of holistic medicine Mary has been full of energy and has a zest for life. She hasn't had an illness beyond a cold in the last four years. She stays clear of government warnings to get flu shots -- she doesn't need them because her immune system is strong -- and doesn't get caught up in the fear-based scenarios of disease running rampant through society. Mary looks forward to her visits and doesn't mind paying to keep herself well. For the monthly cost of a nice meal and a night on the town Mary stays healthy. She knows that the money she spends on her wellness is far less than what she'd pay in her deductible and co-pays if she allowed herself to get ill.

Is Mary some kind of New Age health nut? Nope. She is simply an empowered woman taking charge of her life. She is living the flip and loving it.

The Times They Are a Changin'

Quietly, and virtually unnoticed, the late 60s and early 70s brought about an awareness of natural health and eastern philosophies through the counterculture. This influx of Eastern practices such as yoga and meditation opened the door to the West for Eastern sciences based on holistic health -- the approach to caring for body, mind and spirit. The three horsemen of the apothecary had miscalculated the gullibility of people.

In the early days of the holistic health revolution in the United States, the traditional medical establishment regarded the Eastern arts and other mind-body approaches with suspicion and derision. Anything outside the Western path was called alternative at best, and unreliable at worst. But as large numbers of patients found relief in alternative treatments, revenue flowed into the hands of these healers and the medical establishment began to take notice. Forward-thinking doctors and nurses saw the power and logic of natural treatments and began to study and experiment with new approaches. Soon "alternative" medicine transformed into "complementary" medicine, a term acknowledging that Eastern and Western techniques can be effectively combined.

Recent studies show that 63% of adults are dissatisfied with their traditional health care and have sought alternatives to ease chronic illnesses. Today, "integrative medicine" is used to denote the discipline of modern science complemented by the wisdom of ancient healing.

Specifically, integrative physicians apply their skills based on which approach is best for the patient. For example, Western medicine is highly effective for acute illness or sudden injury. If you fall ill or are injured in an accident, the advanced medical technology of a modern hospital may be essential. If a child is rushed to the emergency room with a bad case of croup, she could die without the aid of pharmaceutical interventions and breathing devices. On the other hand, holistic health is focused on the true causes of systemic or chronic illness and supports the body's own natural ability to heal itself rather than forcing a "cure." Thus it is less effective in emergency interventions than Western medicine, but delivers a preventive potential that allopathy ignores almost completely.

Lest you think holistic health care is a lark, please consider that Traditional Chinese Medicine is used by two billion people globally and is practiced in thirty-eight states in the U.S. by nearly 10,000 board certified practitioners. Ayurveda, popularized in the West in the late 80s and early 90s by Deepak Chopra MD, among others, is widely used by practitioners in a number of integrative practices. According to a study released by Ohio State University in 2005, based on research from the University of Michigan and the National Institute on Aging, 71% of adults over the age of 50 use alternative therapies, and 62% of all adults do.

Medical centers throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia have integrative medical clinics. In the United States, integrative medicine is no longer relegated to the fringe; it is practiced not only in San Francisco and Boston, but Bangor, Wichita, Boise and all points in between.

Read more at TruthPublishing.com, where you can purchase this book and learn how to turn your world around with essays on love, relationships, health, business and the environment by philosophers, doctors and actors. Anyone can make the Flip! Check out the contest at TheFlip.net, and submit your own true story of personal transformation. It’s your chance to inspire someone else to make The Flip by sharing how you changed your world -- and you could win a Personal Transformation Library with over 65 books, CDs and DVDs!

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