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Complementary and Integrative Medicine as Effective Forms of Treatment

Dr. Petersen explains different forms of medical treatment.
Complementary and Integrative Medicine as Effective Forms of Treatment

You probably have a basic understanding of how modern medicine works: People have a yearly checkup, take medicine when they're sick, get a cast if they break a bone, and they're good as new. But in recent years other approaches to healing have risen in popularity. Many of these "integrative" techniques come from all over the globe and have been around for thousands of years. So what is integrative medicine; what does it do; and why do physicians still not know how to incorporate this type of treatment into routine patient care as effective forms of treatment?

1. What exactly is complementary and integrative medicine when referring to these new effective forms of treatment?

The term "integrative medicine" is used to describe healing treatments that are not part of conventional medical training — like nutritional supplements/medicine, acupuncture, or massage therapy. People used to consider practices like these outside the mainstream, which is why they got the name "integrative." Eastern countries have a longstanding tradition of teaching integrative medicine. But until recently, most Western hospitals didn't provide any integrative treatments and Western medical schools didn't teach them.

Patients in Western countries are becoming more receptive to trying integrative techniques, and have been asking for them. As a result, many Western medical schools are starting to teach these medicine techniques and theories. Some hospitals and doctors are supplementing their regular medical care with integrative techniques.

Many patients and health care providers use integrative treatments together with conventional therapies. This is known as complementary medicine.
Both integrative and complementary medicine use the same kinds of remedies to treat a health condition. The difference is that integrative medicine is often used instead of conventional medical techniques. Complementary medicine is used in addition to conventional medicine, not as a replacement.

2. So why doesn’t my doctor know more about effective forms of treatment?

We hear this more often, than not, when patients come to see us. The reason is that the overwhelming ma­jority (all but a few percent) of physicians (endocrinologists, internists, family prac­titioners, rheumatologists, etc.) do not read medical journals. When asked, most doctors will claim that they routinely read medical journals, but this has been shown not to be the case. The reason is multi-fac­torial, but it comes down to the fact that the doctors do not have the time. They are too busy running their practices. The over­whelming majority of physicians rely on what they learned in medical school and on pharmaceutical sales representatives to keep them “up-to-date” on new drug infor­mation. Obviously, the studies brought to physicians for “educational purposes” are highly filtered to support their product.

There has been significant concern by health care organizations and experts that physi­cians are failing to learn of new information presented in medical journals and the lack of ability to translate that information into treatments for their patients. The concern is essentially that doctors erroneously rely on what they have previously been taught and don’t change treatment philosophies as new information becomes available. This is espe­cially true for endocrinological conditions, where physicians are very resistant to chang­ing old concepts of diagnosis and treatment despite overwhelming evidence to the con­trary because it is not what they were taught in medical school and residency.

3. Should we be concerned that doctors continue to rely on what they learned 20 years before and are uniformed about scientific findings?

Absolutely, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled Clinical Research to Clinical Practice-Lost in Translation states that there is great concern that doctors continue to rely on what they learned 20 years before and are uninformed about sci­entific findings. The article states that medi­cal researchers, public officials and political leaders are increasingly concerned about physicians’ inability to translate research findings in their medical practice to ben­efit their patients and states that very few physicians learn about new discoveries at scientific conferences and medical journals and translate this knowledge into enhanced treatments for their patients.

It also states that a review of past medical discoveries reveals how excruciatingly slow the medical estab­lishment is to adopt novel concepts. Even simple methods to improve medical quality are often met with fierce resistance. The lag between the discovery of more effective forms of treatment and their incorporation into routine patient care averages 17 years.

Doctors feel the best medicine is what they’ve been doing and thinking for years because that is what they’ve been doing. They discount new re­search because it is not what they have been taught or practiced and refuse to admit that what they have been doing or thinking for many years is not the best medicine.

4. What role do insurance companies play with physicians incorporating this type of care?

The Principals of Medical Ethics adopted by the American Medical Association in 1980 states, “A physician shall continue to study, apply, and advance scientific knowl­edge, make relevant information available to patients, colleagues, and the public.” This has unfortunately been replaced with an apathetical goal to merely provide so-called adequate care. The current reim­bursement system in America fosters this thinking as the worst physicians are finan­cially rewarded by insurance companies. The best physicians are continually fight­ing to provide cutting-edge treatments and superior care that the insurance companies deem not medically necessary. Even the best physicians eventually get worn down and are forced to capitulate to the current substandard care.

5. Doctors are required to attend continuing medical education to sustain their medical license. With new information and innovative treatment that is out there, why aren’t they incorporating into their standard of care?

Most physicians will satisfy their required amount of continuing medical education (CME) by going to a conference a year, usually at a highly desirable location that has skiing, golf, boating, etc. A physician is rarely monitored as to if they actually showed up for the lectures. One must also understand that the majority of conferences by medical societies are sponsored by phar­maceutical companies. While these pay­ments are called unrestricted grants, in that the society has free reign to do what they want with the money and can thus claim there is no influence of lecture content by the pharmaceutical company. The problem is that if the society wants to continue get­ting these unrestricted grants from the par­ticular company, they better provide content that is of benefit to the pharmaceutical com­pany that paid for the grant. Consequently, ground breaking research that goes against the status quo and does not support the drug industry receives little attention. The doctor must actively search for these stud­ies, which only a few percent are willing to do on a consistent basis.

6. What are the types of things we need to look for in a physician when searching for integrative or complementary care?

· Talk to your primary health care providers if you are considering a CAMA group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, and alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. therapy. They may be able to answer questions and/or refer you to a practitioner. Also, be aware that there are other resources for locating an integrative or complementary medical practitioner, such as professional organizations for specific practitioner groups.

· Gather basic information you are considering, such as education, experience, and cost, and interview them in person or by telephone. Make your selection based on their answers to your questions, and your level of comfort during the interview.

· Evaluate your practitioner after the initial treatment visit—including what you have been told to expect in terms of therapy outcomes, time, and costs—and decide if the practitioner is right for you.

· Tell all of your health care providers about any complementary and integrative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

7. How is your Center different when it comes to integrative and complementary care for your patients?

We’ve dedicated our practice to providing our patients the best in evidenced-based, highly integrative medicine that combine both traditional and integrative therapies. It’s not only safe and effective, but provides measurable results, which often times can be seen after their 4th visit. Our cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments help to find the answers and develop a treatment plan that is personalized to their specific condition. We guide them every step of the way, monitoring their results, adjusting their medications and/or supplements, to not only improve their symptoms, but improve overall quality of life.

If you want more information on Holtorf Medical Group and our treatment approach please visit HMGUtah.com or call (801)821-5384 to talk to a patient representative.
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