Back in the late 80’s we saw the public at large start to really questions the quality of health care they were offered and what other options were available instead of taking verbatim what the doctor offered as an diagnosis and treatment. It was the beginning of the end of health care as we knew it. About that same time you started seeing more alternative avenues emerging such as Chiropractors, Massage Therapist, Psychologist, Meditation styles and Spa centers springing up- what comes to mind is The Kripalu Center in Massachusetts. In the 1980’s Kripalu offered mind-body therapies to include diet, yoga, consulting and meditation to name a few. The public at large was starting to reject and questioning the model of western medicine because they were not getting- RESULTS. The public was becoming better educated with the advent of informational technology via the internet, well, the rest is history. Western medicine was challenge and quick to adapt- in fact sometimes it almost seemed by how the postured themselves they would like you to think they invented the MIND-BODY connection- we all know that is not true! We first saw the use of the verbiage, CAM (omplimentary Alternative Medicine) which was to become obsolete and shortened to Alternative Medicine. Now we see far and wide, the usage of Integrative Medicine. So what do those terms mean to you so you can have a better understanding… and, therefore, enhance your ability to make more informed decisions.

What are Alternative and Integrative Medicines?
CAM at its time, was difficult to define and that was because it was out of the box thinking for those use to having all things known fall ‘into’ the box in order to have meaning and exist- mainly, western medicine. In short at the time, CAM was any medicine or health practices that were not western medicine- see the problem with a clear definition here? One must remember, just because it is scientifically proven, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist!

Then we evolved to Alternative Medicine which still holds the same definition as CAM but evolved over time and now is better understood because of noted usage with results. If can include but not limited to the use of one or more of the below: Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Herbs, Nutrition- Functional Medicine, Naturopathic, Ayurveda, Meditation, Yoga, Biofeedback, and Homeopathy… get the drift? Because of its start, and the considerable objections from western medicine, more and more studies have been done with supportive evidence to support their usage- not their dis-usage. A pioneer in this arena that opened the door more for Alternative Medicine was a Western Medicine researcher from Boston, MA- Donald Epstein MD. It significantly put Alternative Medicine on the map and Western Medicine- had to take notice and participate.

We are in the next evolution- we’re seeing the use of Integrative Medicine more and more… A more individualistic which puts the person at the center in order to address the ‘whole person’- physically, mentally, emotionally, social and spiritual wellbeing, all the while looking at environmental aspects and the effects it can have on an individual’s health to even include ones work environment and stress. It is very individualized and focuses on how one is expressing their genetics at a given moment and uses a variety of interventions and disciplines not just limited to those just listed above along with western medicine when indicated. The ultimate goal accesses and implement whatever it take to have wellness and health. The goal is to have individuals regain, restore and maintain their optimum health and prevent chronic diseases that plague us today such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular and cognitive expression (dementia) etc., and can be addressed or is speculated- prevented to start with what we put into our mouths- proper nutrition.

Everyone’s idea of what there optimum health is different- their achievability is dependent on the willingness to participate in one’s own health, the speed of implementation and readiness to take responsibility for health and not leave it in the hand of others. It is a ‘team’ approach that incorporates honesty, integrity, a vision, listening, and hearing, willingness to give feedback, clarity, the commitment to follow through, and the ability to communicate between health specialties and with the individual- you.

If your health care provider is reluctant or refuses to interact in such a fashion, or with you, then you need to make a choice whether to terminate that relationship… because your best interest may not be at heart. It is after all your body and your health… but, it is up to you to step up and do some research on your own and ask questions- remember learning the ‘W’s’ in elementary school… What? When? Where? Why? And How? If the health care provider cannot explain to you in terms you understand… ask the 5 W’s again and again until you have 100% clarity, or walk.

When to seek Alternative and Integrative Medicine? Everyone if you are alive and breathing should be intimately connected with your health and how you participate directly with the expression of your health. You have choices and you are in control. Once you have knowledge, you have responsibility… you can no longer claim, you just do not know. Take the analogy of buying a car… with the internet you have figures at your finger tips from Kelly Blue book for instance- if the car salesman pulls one over on you, you have yourself to blame for not doing your research. If you cannot nurture yourself, you certainly cannot nurture someone else… do your homework. Buy the best you can afford- have realistic obtainable goals for your health.

How to find an Alternative and Integrative practitioner, and what qualifications do you look for? Choosing a health practitioner, a coach, a mentor can be sometimes tricky- look at their credentials. Where did they go to school and clinical experience? Ask for referrals from friends you know and trust. Ask what their experience was, what were the pros and cons are and, how they were treated? If they cannot tell you this… the practitioner did not educate well. Do not take advice from anyone who doesn’t have firsthand experience. Look on the internet and read the reviews, but also keep in mind that review if a negative may be from someone whose expectation was not met because it was unrealistic- read between the lines. Call the facility up and ask what to expect and ask if possible to speak to the practitioner? Do they make house calls? No question is a dumb question… It is all about you. If you do not like them- walk. Look at all your options. Participate in your experience and experience your participation.

Why do you want to do Alternative and Integrative Medicine, really? It is simple…. If you are sick, you want to get well. If you are well, you want to maintain your health or better yet, achieve your optimum health-wellness. Alternative and Integrative Medicine provides you with the best solutions… whether Alternative and/or Integrative. No one discipline has all the answers all the time- possible but not likely. Having a vast network that interacts to your best benefit so you can have access the best information at a given time so you can make educated decisions can greatly enhance your ability to express your best heath-wellness life ever…

Health has 5 simple components to it:

1. Proper REST
3. Proper EXERCISE

If you are not a 100% on all of these… seek your Alternative and Integrative Solutions NOW. How you approach it is up to you… you do have choices. Pay attention or Pay the consequences- make great informed choices.

Your LifeStyle Health- Wellness Strategist-

Dr Pat B