In the Integrative Clinic
Re-introducing natural health to medicine. Conventional. Naturopathic. Collaborative.
Conventional medicine’s inclusion of the integrative health therapies that are our focus here at CoverMyCare has progressed steadily since the early 1990’s, when it became clear that millions of Americans were choosing acupuncture, massage, herbal therapies, meditation and other options to care for their illnesses and ailments (and just to feel better, too).
In the years since, finding the appropriate place for these therapies in the health care system – such as in the licensing of disciplines or in insurance reimbursement – has been a difficult, contentious and discordant process. It has been far more difficult than the irreversible use, acceptance and affirmation of their value by patients who actually use them.
For some conventionally trained physicians and nurses, the sustained and overwhelming patient acceptance and even preference for these therapies provided the motivation to learn more about them and ultimately to actually figure out how to create the appropriate place for them in their own clinics and hospital units.
A recent and important accounting of the effective blending of conventional and integrative practice, in this case naturopathic medicine, is told by David Katz, MD, one of the nation’s leading authorities on preventive medicine and the emerging discipline of lifestyle medicine.
Katz is Director of the Integrative Medicine Center at Griffin Hospital in Derby, CT, the author of the 2013 book “Disease Proof: The Remarkable Truth About What Makes Us Well” and president of the recently formed American College of Lifestyle Medicine. In a recent and perhaps seminal column in The Huffington Post, “The Nature of Medicine, and the Medicine of Nature” he describes his everyday clinical experiences with colleagues who practice naturopathic medicine.
For anyone interested in how therapies with roots in antiquity (i.e., acupuncture) can complement modern day medicine, this is a compelling account of new integrative collaborations forming around the country. It also points to a significant if little observed trend that is re-shaping health delivery and outcomes in America.
“In particular, we were better together at treating the hard stuff: chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and various esoteric syndromes.”
The trend is the re-introduction into the thinking and purpose of health care and health creation the qualities and principles of “natural” health that were basically cast out of medicine in the 19th century. Katz, who began his own integrative medicine practice in 2000 has collaborated up close and personal with naturopathic colleagues whose medical training (which he helpfully outlines) is very close to his own but is based primarily on the science of natural health and healing that provides effective resolution of ill-health and ailments.
“I embraced integrative medicine because I recognized that as an internist, I simply couldn’t make all of my patients better. Sometimes they didn’t respond to conventional treatments. Sometimes they didn’t tolerate them. And sometimes, I simply was at a loss how to help.
“I found that my colleagues in naturopathy often had new things to recommend when I had run out. And more importantly, I found that by working together — a higher percentage of my patients got better. In particular, we were better together at treating the hard stuff: chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and various esoteric syndromes.”
As a result of more than a decade of his collaborative, integrative experience Katz writes: “There should be no need to choose between responsible use of science, and responsiveness to the needs of patients who don’t respond as textbooks suggest they will.”
“As the president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, I am obligated to note in passing that lifestyle is the best medicine we have. In general, naturopaths are better trained in, and more devoted to, its delivery than are we in conventional medicine.”
This is an expansive, respectful and collegial view of naturopathic medicine that not only illustrates the outcomes possible from inter-professional collaboration, but also argues for the acceleration of the licensure of this discipline in the 33 states that do not yet confer on its professionals the means to practice to the full extent of their training.
To read the entire column, please go to Dr. Katz’s Huffington Post piece, “The Nature of Medicine, and the Medicine of Nature.”
For more, check out our naturopathic medicine section.