Bridging the gap between holistic healthcare, complementary healthcare, and traditional medicine; a doctors opinion worth reading
In our healthcare system, being too conservative or too liberal, like politics does little to help the public at large, and can be quite dangerous. With regards to medical physicians who are too conservative, and never consider options out of their own profession, their decisions are often clouded by professional bias, and not offering their patients options that are effective and perhaps safer than what their own profession has to offer.
On the other end of the spectrum, some complementary/alternative options are just so abstract, one has to wonder if they have any validity at all. An example of this is one a recent patient told me about, where they freeze the body in liquid nitrogen for three minutes, which can help numerous conditions. When I asked further, I was not given any reason physiologically why this would be valid and why as a treatment it should work.
Chiropractic falls in the middle and is being embraced by many medical physicians since many chiropractors follow evidenced-based guidelines. Unfortunately, there are still some very conservative medical doctors who do not take the profession and its positive outcomes seriously, often preferring to send patients for expensive tests and therapies that just do not work, or are very costly.
A recent article in the Huffington post addresses this problem beautifully. Check it out here
Holism, Holes and Poles
Integrative Medicine, now itself officially integrated into the name of its home at the NIH, the newly dubbed National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, is a rhetorical lightning rod under any of its potential aliases. All related terms- alternative medicine, holistic medicine, complementary medicine, and so on — are charged and evocative. Inevitably, the sparks and charges emanating from the poles do much to generate heat, and almost nothing to shine light on the promise of common ground in the middle.
At one pole are practitioners of “alternative” medicine inclined to blame modern medicine for every modern ill, and toss the whole enterprise under the proverbial bus. They do so at the public’s peril, forgetting and obscuring the stunning benefits of immunization, antibiotics, revascularization, and refinements in chemotherapy.
At the other pole are conventional practitioners who give as good as they get, disparaging any insight not emanating from a multi-million dollar RCT, wary of anything not established in their purview, unwittingly inattentive to the baby awash in bathwater.
Before making that case, and arguing for a better way forward, I note that the middle is where I have long been. I opened an Integrative Medicine Center some 15 years ago, and have directed it, and seen patients in that context, since. I did so not because of any long-suppressed desire to practice medicine under that banner, and certainly not because of any inclination to don Birkenstocks.
In fact, I was — as I remain- a card-carrying member of the evidence-based medicine club. I was already running then, as I still am, a federally funded clinical research lab. I was already then, as I am now, routinely publishing studies in the peer-reviewed literature. I was teaching then, as I did for roughly ten years, biostatistics and clinical epidemiology to Yale medical students. And while back then I had co-authored a textbook on epidemiology and biostatistics, I have since co-authored four editions of that textbook, and a textbook on evidence-based medicine as well.