Western medicine does wonders when it comes to diagnosing and treating emergent medical issues such as pneumonia or broken bones. There is, however, a much larger epidemic of diseases that our healthcare system has not been able to adequately manage. Greater than 50% of healthcare costs are caused by chronic medical conditions such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; diseases which can be prevented and even effectively reversed with a healthy lifestyle. What’s even more disheartening is that the third leading cause of death in America is thought to be related to medical interventions.
Why then with all of the available advanced medical technology and breakthroughs, do we still have such a broken system? it isn’t so much an issue of a lack of access to healthcare, as it is about the access to actual quality care. A doctor’s job doesn’t only involve treating diseases; it’s also about preventing them from happening in the first place. It is much easier to prevent a disease, than it is to treat it at a critical stage when most healthcare costs are often spent and possibility for recovery is the poorest. Our healthcare system has unfortunately become a “disease care” system.
Quality healthcare involves time, patient education and addressing the whole individual, not just the disease. The word doctor means teacher in Latin, and it’s up to medical professionals to educate their patients. Many people do not know that most health issues have roots that can be traced back to an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, tobacco and alcohol use and inadequate stress management. Yet, many doctors are forced to see more patients in a short amount of time to make ends meet, leading to fragmented care and the inability to get to the root cause of issues. When you have twenty-five, 15-minute slots to meet with people, it’s difficult to address everything and often a prescription for a pill is the quickest solution. Pills however are superficial bandages to a deeper multifaceted issue, and often come with unpleasant side effects. It’s no wonder people have become frustrated with the healthcare system and are looking for alternatives.
Integrative medicine provides many solutions to the chronic disease epidemic. It is a patient centered, wellness-oriented approach to healthcare that embraces both conventional and alternative modalities. Just like in many Eastern healing traditions such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the focus is directed on addressing all aspects of an individual’s existence- mind, body and spirit. Western medicine is beginning to appreciate the benefits of alternative modalities such as acupuncture, yoga and meditation, which come with fewer side effects than pills. In fact, integrative medicine relies on a multidisciplinary team approach to care that involves the expertise of acupuncturists, psychologists, nutritionists and more. The team approach extends to the patient-healer relationship as well, as the patient is considered to play an integral role in healing.
People are complex and have many layers that contribute to what is seen on the surface of their issues. It takes time, effort and teamwork to stay healthy. Health comes from addressing diet, lifestyle, emotions and psychosocial factors, and not from a pill. The future of medicine will still include emergency rooms, surgery, medications and the scientific breakthroughs Western medicine has to offer. Everything has its place. However true wellness lies in embracing all safe and effective healing modalities that empower an individual to uncover and utilize his or her own inherent healing potential, a source that exists within us all.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, be sure to check out Lotus East-West Medical Center. Here you can find experts in integrative medicine, Ayurveda, acupuncture, psychology, thermography, homeopathy, meditation, reiki, naturopathy & more all under one roof!