I have addressed the differences between conventional medicine and alternative medicine in the past. But, I am always staying abreast of research in the medical community and healthcare science. Therefore, I think occasionally it’s important to re-examine why the population is seeing so little results with US healthcare and conventional medicine, as I often hear from patients that their conditions are not improving. This is after they have been to so many doctors, been given so many referrals and perhaps been prescribed multiple medications – all with no result. Yet, despite the failure of our healthcare industry to successfully treat and improve the quality of life of patients and the ensuing disappointment with doctors and medical treatment, I find it odd and troubling that no alternative medicine is being promoted to patients who are at their wit’s end.
So, we’ll look at some reasons why the healthcare industry is failing us and draw a bit of a comparison to a more successful approach with an alternative medicine practice such as mine.
Trust in conventional medical professionals is plummeting, and the percentage of chronically ill individuals is going up. Coincidence? I think not.
Not only do conventional doctors and medicine have a poor rate of treating chronic illness, but they have an even worse track record of preventive healthcare, as almost half the population of Americans have a chronic illness. This is because conventional medicine is predominantly equipped to treat acute illnesses such as infections, tend to physical traumas, perform surgeries, etcetera. Whereas chronic illness treatment requires a broader understanding of the individual, their lifestyle and even their genetic predispositions. But, it is not very common in conventional medical practice to look at things from this larger perspective.
Most people become disillusioned with medicine only after they have a negative experience. To start, there is typically high trust in doctors, as there should be.
However, the level of patient confidence declines when doctors cannot solve the problem they are seeking treatment for. It is then the patient is prescribed medication, sometimes as a bit of trial and error – just to try it out and see if it works. Or, perhaps they were prescribed anti-anxiety or anti-depression medication, as if the patient’s physical problem is not actually the culprit, but rather a psychological problem. In other words, as if it’s “all in your head.”
Other times, when the condition requires lifestyle modification, common doctor’s advice might be to lose weight, for example. It seems like good advice on the surface. But how many people who are obese or overweight are not already aware of their physical condition and are hearing this for the first time? (This is equivalent to telling a smoker to stop smoking, or telling an alcoholic to stop drinking.)
The only other option the doctor has is to prescribe a drug to lower blood sugar or lower blood pressure. But obesity and being overweight is a complex problem that requires an understanding of the individual – their lifestyle, nutritional deficiencies, diet and genetics. It takes time, and doctors don’t have it, nor do they have training in the management of lifestyle, diet and other things discussed.
Doctors also tend not to believe that patients can change. This comes from experience. They see change infrequently, and they don’t usually see patients making marked improvements on their own. This creates a catch-22: the patient doesn’t feel well, they come to the doctor, the reasons for their illness aren’t being addressed, they are being put on medication, the patient still doesn’t feel well, they come back again, and the doctor prescribes them more medication. This is a pill-centered approach to medicine. Doctors have little incentive to cure illnesses; they can only manage them with pharmaceuticals. Even if they did want to, it is outside their knowledge base, as doctors themselves aren’t particularly healthy.
For instance, the average lifespan of an ER physician is 59 years! And if you worked in emergency medicine at any time in your career, your average life expectancy is 71.3 years. Primary care physicians have a longer lifespan projection, but it is only average in comparison to the longevity of the entire population. Overall, general practice physicians have the highest longevity amongst all physicians, but only slightly higher than the average population. In this last group, some of the gains on longevity were due to their overall higher incomes, as well as a younger retirement age, with which comes an end to stressful shift work and the ability to enjoy more active and healthy leisure time.
I have no data on acupuncturists’ longevity, but acupuncture has been used for over 40 centuries to combat pain and illness. For example, it has been scientifically proven to reduce high blood pressure, the silent killer. Research also shows it increases the average lifespan by 11 percent, and overall longevity by a stunning 24 percent!
Patient management in Complimentary Alternative Medicine (CAM), such as acupuncture and functional medicine, which I practice, is very different. At the initial visit, a patient’s complete history is being taken. This includes metabolic, hormonal, neurotransmitter and gastrointestinal (GI) data, as well as evaluation of stress, lifestyle, diet and exercise.
When stress is present, a saliva test can be ordered to measure stress hormones, in addition to other adrenal hormones, to assess the stress handling ability of the body.
Nutritional deficiencies are being assessed in many cases where the patient’s energy levels are affected.
Neurotransmitters and overall brain health are being assessed in cases of anxiety, depression, ADHD or any other neurological/psychological conditions.
The GI microbiome is being looked at in all patients with GI issues and in many cases when the immune system is a culprit, such as high inflammation levels. ‘
A treatment plan is based on all the findings in the exam, history or labs and may involve acupuncture, changes in diet, nutrition and exercise to address the finding in such a way as to remove the causative factor in the fastest way possible.
A great deal of my patients have tried “everything” conventional medicine has to throw at them, without success. Oftentimes, a visit to my clinic is a last resort for many of them. But I’d like to offer some personal accounts of success stories among some of my patients: A 100lb weight loss in a matter of just three months.
Documented blood sugar levels that have declined by the factor of 4! Severe hives that didn’t respond to any drugs such as corticosteroids or antihistamines went away in 4 weeks. Unrelenting anxiety and depression related to ADHD that was unresponsive to any medication is better in 3 weeks. Pain that is debilitating subsides in just a few sessions.
But these cases are not exceptions; there are many more successful outcomes – too many to list here. In fact, they are very common results in my practice, and a great majority of my patients see improvements. Please consider asking yourself when was the last time you heard of such outcomes with conventional medicine? I certainly am not hearing the success stories from my patients under the attention of their physician, which is why they have come to see me and referred many others after receiving great results under my care.
If you are dissatisfied with the care you are receiving from your physician or you are not seeing improvements in your condition, then please consult with me. And if you know someone who may benefit from a second opinion on their condition and an alternative treatment plan, please forward this helpful article to them. I also encourage you to have a look at my blog, so you have an idea of some conditions that we treat here in my clinic – although the articles listed there do not cover the entire range of conditions, nor is it a full database of my knowledge. And if you have any questions or concerns you would like to discuss, please feel free to reach out.
To Your Health,
Arthur Gazaryants, DOM