Tired Of Taking Prescription Drugs For Everything? Why You Should Try Integrative Medicine

July 8, 2016  |  

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In 2006, I used the NeilMed Sinus Rinse, for the first time, as I had battled sinusitis and allergies for years. Before then, I used only prescription medications that ultimately became over-the-counter medicines, with the occasional sinus spray.

I was hesitant to spray the mixture of water and natural ingredients into one nostril only to have it come out of the other. After almost choking on the first attempt, the second try was a success and I was able to breathe through both nostrils for at least 10 days. Since then, and after trying a variety of other treatments, I became a believer in forgoing prescription drugs and the like for more natural remedies — also known as integrative medicine.

Integrative medicine reinforces the importance of the relationship between physician and patient, while focusing on the whole person. These practices are evidence based while using a therapeutic approach. This method comes in various forms: alternative medicine – acupuncture; body – massage or yoga; diet and herbs – herbal medicine; mind – meditation; senses – art, dance and music.

While it still has its skeptics, this medical approach has increased in popularity and has become even more accepted by physicians.

It is much cheaper to prevent a disease than it is to treat it after the illness has developed. According to the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, at least 100 million American adults have common chronic pain conditions. Therefore, the annual total cost of pain relief, including healthcare costs, ranges from $560 to $635 billion.

With a more preventative approach, a person’s overall medical costs could be much lower by implementing integrative lifestyle change programs for those with chronic disease, integrative interventions for people experiencing depression, and integrative preventive strategies to support wellness in all populations.

When used for a long period of time, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, can cause serious side effects, including kidney failure. Although the integrative approach normally includes natural components, the side effects are minimal. However, there can be dangerous interactions when supplements and herbs are used in conjunction with over-the-counter medication. When handling chronic illness or pain, it’s better to get to the root of the issue rather than constantly using medicine to mask the pain.

Dr. Andrew Weil, founder of the program in integrative medicine at the University of Arizona, said that patients often state that they’re unhappy with the current medical model.

“Patients are dissatisfied with the small amount of time they get with their doctors and with doctors who prescribe a pill for every ill,” Weil said. “The integrative medicine movement is not a rejection of conventional methods. But patients are saying that the conventional model is not working, that it’s broken.”

Even though integrative medicine has its strengths, it does not diminish what the more popular medical model has introduced. Victoria Maizes, executive director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, in Tucson, and a family and integrative medicine specialist said that Western medicine has many strengths. “People used to die of infections, and now we have antibiotics. They used to die of heart disease, and now we have bypass surgery,” she said.

Although physicians are keeping an open mind about preventative approaches, many insurance companies are not covering integrative medicine. However, seeing an integrative doctor as a primary care physician may be covered.

With that being said, what are your thoughts on integrative medicine? Have you tried it? Would you consider doing so?

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