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Win your health goals with an integrative medicine team.

Who's in charge of taking care of your health? Do you have one health care provider to whom you go for everything and whose infallible advice you follow without question? (Probably not.) Do you have a stable of specialists that you consult for specific services or body parts? (Like most of us.) Or are you one of the fortunate few who has an integrated team of health practitioners who work with you and each other to achieve your health goals? (Good for you!)

If you are a regular reader of New Life Journal, then you already know that there's a wide selection of health care practitioners to choose from: acupuncturists, massage therapists, chiropractors, naturopaths, homeopaths, herbalists, allopathic (western medical) doctors, psychologists, Reiki practitioners, iridologists, reflexologists, Ayurvedic practitioners, hypnotists, colon therapists, aromatherapists, taiji, qigong, Pilates and yoga teachers, to name a few. How do you choose which ones are best suited for your needs? How do you get them all working together instead of being in conflict or unaware of each other? It can be a little bit like herding cats!

[check] KNOW YOURSELF

First and foremost, you need to accept that your health is your own responsibility. If you abdicate this responsibility, blindly follow "doctor's orders," and allow yourself to be sold a bill of goods, it's ultimately your own fault. Be an informed health consumer. Before you talk to your healer of choice, spend some time, energy and awareness on your current state of health. This requires honest introspection and a few pointed questions:

* How healthy and balanced do I feel in general?

* What am I doing to keep myself healthy and in balance?

* What aspects of my lifestyle and attitude contribute to imbalance?

* How is my mental, emotional, and social health?

* What are my major health concerns and the specific problems I want to discuss?

* Be able to accurately identify the following about your health issue(s):

--the location or area

--how and when it started

--what it feels like

--what makes it worse, what makes it better

--other associated symptoms

Develop your own theory of what you have, how you got it, and what it means to get well. It doesn't matter if you don't know the medical terms for conditions; that's the doctor's job. Yours is to accurately and completely describe the problem to your practitioner so they can best help you ... and be open to, yet discerning about, new interpretations of your symptoms/imbalance.

Make a list of questions that you have about your health and go through it with your doctor until you are satisfied with the answers.

[check] ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

Find the right practitioner for you by asking important questions, like ...

* Do you encourage patient input and participation?

* Do you have experience in treating what I have?

* Are you qualified to treat this?

* Will you collaborate with my other health care practitioners?

* What has been your experience in integrative practice?

* Are there other practitioners who you work well with that you can recommend?

* Will you refer me to another practitioner if that's what I need?

* Will you forward your records to other practitioners on my request?

* Do you want records from my other caregivers?

* Where do you stand regarding insurance? (If this is important to you)

* Ask any and all questions you need to feel comfortable with this person's competence and manner. Remember, this is their employment interview.

[check] BE HONEST AND FORTHRIGHT

Even if your condition is personal or embarrassing, be as honest and complete in giving all relevant information as you possibly can. The accuracy of your diagnosis and the quality of your treatment depends on it. Don't leave out details because you think they're unimportant, because they involve a different body part, or happened a long time ago. Integrative practitioners look at everything about your whole being.

[check] DO YOUR HOMEWORK

It's also your job to find out what these-professionals areas of responsibility and scope of practice are, so that your expectations meet their abilities. You wouldn't go to see a podiatrist (foot doctor) for a periodontal (gum) problem, right? Be sure that your caregivers are properly trained and legally sanctioned to practice. If there is a professional board and malpractice coverage backing them up, you have some protection should anything go wrong. You have no such safety net if someone with only an Internet diploma gives you bad advice, no matter how convincing their rant might be.

[check] DON'T BE INTIMIDATED

Don't let yourself be bullied by someone with a bunch of letters after their name, or bamboozled by false claims from a phony. You can educate yourself and speak with them from an informed place, at least about your condition. You are hiring these professionals to provide you with a service, according to their level of training and expertise. Choose your health consultant as carefully as you would choose a mate, a financial advisor, or a pair of shoes. Find one who "fits" with your personal health philosophy. Remember, it's your body, and you're in charge. Be open to their input (after all, you're paying for it!) but if it doesn't ring true, get another opinion.

Here is a listing of some common practitioners and the differences between them:

Reference the Health Practitioner Comparison Chart on p. 14

* Allopathic: A term applied to that system of therapeutics in which diseases are treated by producing a condition incompatible with or antagonistic to the condition to be cured or alleviated. Called also western medicine, conventional, or (paradoxically) traditional medicine.

* Osteopathy: A system of medicine, with a strong emphasis on the inter-relationship of the body's nerves, muscles, bones, and organs. Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or D.O's, are taught to apply the philosophy of treating the whole person (holistic approach) to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of illness, disease, and injury using traditional medical practice such as drugs and surgery along with manual and physical therapies. Unfortunately, many D.O.s reject the more holistic tenets of Osteopathy and focus on the conventional aspects of medicine.

* Medical Doctor: Although the majority of M.D.s are strictly allopathic, increasing numbers are adding training in healing modalities to their credentials, often calling themselves "Integrative M.D.s. There is also a recognized 'board certification' in Holistic Medicine which over 1000 doctors have completed. (www.holisticboard.org)

* Holistic: A holistic approach to healing recognizes that the emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical elements of each person compose a system, and attempts to treat the whole person, concentrating on the cause of the illness as well as symptoms. They usually do not originate from the western medical-scientific tradition. Many other healing systems are holistic by design, integrating all aspects of the person.

* Homeopathy: A system of alternative medicine that treats "like with like," using miniscule doses of remedies that would, in regular doses in healthy individuals, produce similar symptoms to those the homeopathic doses treat in an ill patient.

* Naturopathy: Naturopathic medicine utilizes physiological, psychological, and mechanical methods, such as air, water, light, heat, earth, phytotherapy, food and herb therapy, psychotherapy, electrotherapy, physiotherapy, and natural methods or modalities, together with natural medicines, natural processed foods and herbs and natural remedies. Naturopathy is not currently regulated, so while some Naturopathic Doctors receive lengthy, rigorous training similar to their conventional medical counterparts, other practitioners with much less training also call themselves Naturopaths or Naturopathic Doctors. Ask your practitioner about their training.

[check] TAKE CONTROL

Introduce your chosen health advisors to each other. Make sure each knows of the others' specialties and understands your wellness goals. Choose one to be the team "foreman" to coordinate care and prevent redundancies or omissions. This does not have to be the MD, but should be a practitioner with a license to diagnose. Have needed tests ordered by the type of practitioner your insurance company recognizes and interpreted by those trained and qualified to do so. Bring your ideas to the table, but don't try new things on your own without running them by your team first. Follow diet and lifestyle recommendations carefully. Let your healing team know of any changes, for better or worse.

Bonnie L. Walker, D.C., L.Ac. is a licensed chiropractic physician and acupuncturist in solo practice since 1990 at Wellspring Chiropractic and Acupuncture Center in Boone, NC. (www.wellspring-healing.com) She is a primary care provider of chiropractic, classical Chinese acupuncture, nutritional counseling, and wellness care for all ages. She has a special interest in chronic fatigue, immune system disorders, internal medicine, infertility, and women's health. She also is Biomedical Dean of Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine in Sugar Grove, NC. http://www.jungtao.edu.
Health Practitioner Comparison Chart (for further definitions of
these terms, see p17)

Title Description Education Qualification

MD Medical Dr 8 + yrs Nat'l Exam

DO Osteopathic Dr 8 + yrs Nat'l Exam

DC Chiropractor 6-8 yrs Nat'l Exam

PA, FNP Physician's asst, 4 yrs Nat'l Exam
 Family Nurse
 Practitioner

L Ac Acupuncturist 3-4 yrs Nat'l Exam

LPC Counselor 5 to 7 yrs Nat'l Exam

LMT, LMBT Massage therapist 6 months, Nat'l Exam
 600 hours

ND Naturopath 8 years Nat'l Exam

CHom, MD(H) Homeopath 3 years Nat'l Exam

 Herbalist 9 months, No requirement
 275 hours

RD, CCN, Nutritionist Varies No requirement
other
 Colon therapist 100 hours No requirement

 Aroma therapist Workshops No requirement

 Spiritual Healer Varies No requirement

Title Description Regulation Philosophy

MD Medical Dr License Allopathic

DO Osteopathic Dr License Allopathic (&
 Holistic)

DC Chiropractor License Holistic

PA, FNP Physician's asst, License Allopathic
 Family Nurse
 Practitioner

L Ac Acupuncturist License Holistic

LPC Counselor License Holistic

LMT, LMBT Massage therapist Certification Holistic

ND Naturopath Unregulated Holistic

CHom, MD(H) Homeopath Unregulated Holistic

 Herbalist Unregulated Holistic

RD, CCN, Nutritionist Unregulated Holistic
other
 Colon therapist Unregulated Holistic

 Aroma therapist Unregulated Holistic

 Spiritual Healer Unregulated Holistic

Title Description Insurance Accountability

MD Medical Dr Yes Board & malprx
 insurance

DO Osteopathic Dr Yes Board & malprx
 insurance

DC Chiropractor Most Board & malprx
 insurance

PA, FNP Physician's asst, Yes Board & malprx
 Family Nurse insurance
 Practitioner

L Ac Acupuncturist Some Board & malprx
 insurance

LPC Counselor Some Board & malprx
 insurance

LMT, LMBT Massage therapist Some Board & malprx
 insurance

ND Naturopath No None

CHom, MD(H) Homeopath No None

 Herbalist No None

RD, CCN, Nutritionist No None
other
 Colon therapist No None

 Aroma therapist No None

 Spiritual Healer No None
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Article Details
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Author:Walker, Bonnie
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Words:1720
Previous Article:Acutonics[R], sound healing, and the new field of harmonic medicine.
Next Article:Philosophy of chiropractic and alternative healing.
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