Opting Out Part 2: The Doctor of the Future is You & Your Healthcare Team
In my last post, Opting Out Part 1: Parents Fed Up with 'Conventional' Medicine and "The Look", I examined the common frustrations parents have arising from deficiencies in ‘conventional’ medicine. In summary, many parents are seeking a different healthcare model for their child. They’re unsatisfied with what ‘conventional’ medicine has to offer for acute or chronic problems. They’ve decided to buck the current trend by making different choices for their children regarding nutrition, supplementation, complementary therapies, alternative therapies or vaccinations, yet they lack support from their pediatrician. Some children have been denied medical care for not delaying or declining common medical interventions like antibiotics or vaccines. Maybe you’ve been there? So what would the model look like for balanced healthcare that supports disease prevention, natural solutions to common acute healthcare problems and also provides excellent medical care for critical situations. So, let’s dream a little bit! Let’s also examine how parents can opt into a new health care paradigm by selecting the right expert for the right problem to achieve these goals.
The Ideal Healthcare System
I think the ideal healthcare system begins with each family making healthy diet and lifestyle choices. When a person is unwell (but not ill) they would see a practitioner trained to give lifestyle and dietary advice, prescribe herbs or homeopathic remedies as necessary, and provide services like acupuncture or chiropractic that promote the body to heal itself. If trauma or disease are presented you could see a medical doctor that could repair the damage, prescribe medication, perform surgery, or do advanced diagnostics. At the same time these ill patients would also get holistic support to help the body heal. Ok, now I’m really dreaming. In my opinion, the ideal system would focus on illness prevention and health maintenance as opposed to disease treatment, but still have a variety of options for treating health problems should they occur.
Medicine Begins with "Me"
Maybe I'm not the first one to state this, but it has to be said... YOU are the doctor of the future (You can quote me on that & tweet it). What you feed your kids directly influences their health, now and in the future. What they eat matters a lot and if your kids are struggling with health concerns it's time to re-evaluate their diet. Even if your family eats fruits and vegetables, which is great, you may still be eating too many processed foods which are devoid of nutrients required for growing healthy bodies. Many processed foods are heated to unnaturally high temperatures denaturing the proteins and destroying the vitamins. These foods sneak in your diet in the form of convenience foods like cereals, chips, breads, crackers, granola bars, "fruit" roll-ups and all manner of prepared and prepackaged foods. Vegetable oils, pasteurized dairy products, protein powders, and protein bars all go through a similar process destroying nutrients leading food manufacturers to add artificial vitamins to replace part of what has been destroyed. It's not just that they're devoid of nutrition -- these foods are robbing your children of their health by promoting inflammation and depleting important minerals. You can change this problem by returning to preparing your own meals and cooking at home. You should prepare and eat foods in traditional fashions like sprouting, fermenting and soaking. If you want to learn more about what's wrong with the current American diet and how to return to real food I encourage you to visit Nourishing Our Children, a Non-Profit foundation based on the principles of the Weston A. Price Foundation. I also recommend reading Nourishing Traditions, Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care and Beautiful Babies. These books will give you an understanding of the real food movement and how it can guide your family to health. I also highly recommend checking out the bloggers of Village Green Network, whose test kitchens provide a bounty of delicious real food recipes.
Take a Holistic Approach to Keeping Your Family Healthy
When your child has a health problem take a holistic approach to see if something in your lifestyle or diet can be modified to resolve the issue. For example if your child presents with eczema start going down your checklist to see if something changed in the following areas:
- Diet - introduction of a new foods? too much of a food like strawberries? exposure to processed or artificial foods?
- Lifestyle - new soap or laundry detergent?
- Environment - seasonal allergies? exposure to new animals? staying in a mildewy hotel room?
- Toxic Agents - vaccine reaction? new mattress? Exposure to chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides or herbicides?
- Nutritional Support - begin to support the skin fermented cod liver oil, probiotics and add gelatin and bone broth into your child's diet
The internet is a great resource for researching the cause and possible solutions for health problems. Sometimes even all the natural solutions don't fix the problem, though. In that case, it's time to consult an expert in holistic medicine like an acupuncturist, naturopath, homeopath, chiropractor or holistic medical doctor.
Add Traditional Chinese Medicine to Your Healthcare
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a form of healthcare that has been around for over 3,000 years. In the United States practitioners of TCM are licensed acupuncturists (L.Ac.) and have 4 years of training in holistic medicine and have earned a masters or doctoral degree. In order to get a license to practice acupuncture and TCM they must take state and/or national board exams. Why add a TCM practitioner to your health team? They approach health care from the point of view that the body is designed to heal itself and by using acupuncture they can stimulate the body's innate healing mechanisms. They take a holistic approach to each unique person and their situation and can provide natural remedies to treat health problems that strengthen the body and heal the underlying root cause. On the first visit an acupuncturist will typically spend 60 - 90 minutes reviewing you or your child's health history and current health problem. During subsequent visits the average time spent talking about the patient's progress is 15 - 20 minutes plus additional time delivering the treatment. It’s the acupuncturist’s job to get to know your child and their family which makes them effective at giving meaningful lifestyle, nutrition and parenting advice that will work for your child’s situation. Nutrition advice will often be given since food plays a critical role in growing healthy bodies and healing from illness. The majority of acupuncturists in the United States are also trained in herbal medicine and can prescribe herbal formulas that are safe and effective for children. Acupuncturists can also perform basic physical exams, check ears if an ear infection is suspected, and refer you to a medical doctor if your child’s problem is beyond their expertise or requires medical intervention. If your child is on medications for allergies, asthma or other conditions your child can continue taking their medications while undergoing acupuncture treatments. As your child’s body heals there will be less need for medications -- a decision you can make with your pediatrician. Here are a few things that acupuncture can treat:
Ouch! Won’t it Hurt?
Acupuncture uses many different methods to stimulate acupuncture points on the body. For children, both needle and non-needle treatments are available to stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms to promote safe and timely resolution to illness. Pediatric acupuncture treatments are extremely gentle and many times no needles are required -- which makes the “ouch” factor irrelevant. Click Here for more information on what a pediatric acupuncture treatment is like.
When it's time for Modern ‘Conventional’ Medicine
Sometimes despite all of our best efforts to treat a health problem it progresses or does not respond to natural treatments. Then it's time for a trip to the medical doctor for closer examination or diagnostic evaluation. Modern medicine excels at treating identifiable disease, laboratory testing, diagnostic imaging, performing surgeries, setting bones and performing life saving measures when a person’s life hangs in the balance. I think this quote from the Triumph of New Age Medicine published in The Atlantic sums up the strengths of modern conventional medicine:
“Modern medicine was formed around successes in fighting infectious disease,” says Elizabeth Blackburn, a biologist at the University of California at San Francisco and a Nobel laureate. “Infectious agents were the big sources of disease and mortality, up until the last century. We could find out what the agent was in a sick patient and attack the agent medically.” To a large degree, the medical infrastructure we have today was designed with infectious agents in mind. Physician training and practices, hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, and health insurance all were built around the model of running tests on sick patients to determine which drug or surgical procedure would best deal with some discrete offending agent. The system works very well for that original purpose, against even the most challenging of these agents—as the taming of the AIDS virus attests.
Pediatricians are also well trained in monitoring the growth and development in children as well as handling disease and illness that fits within the strengths of modern conventional medicine. However, since most pediatricians have very little training in nutrition and no training in herbal medicine they won’t be able to provide in-depth support for nourishing your child. They just don’t have the time or expertise to give nutritional advice that focuses on preventing illness. For many common acute conditions such as common cold, headache, colic, growing pains, asthma, eczema and allergies there is no medical intervention that treats the root of the problem. The most that they can offer is some symptom relief and, for conditions like asthma, managing symptoms with medications is vital.
Combine & Use All Medicines Appropriately
If your child has a serious or life threatening health problem see a medical doctor. If your child is unwell they need nutritional advice, herbal remedies or natural solutions -- see an acupuncturist, a holistic pediatric nutritionist, a naturopath, a chiropractor, or a holistic medical doctor. Using conventional medicine doesn’t mean you can’t use alternative medicine, too. The two types of medicines are best when used appropriately and together if necessary -- the combination should simply be called medicine. Your health practitioners and your doctor should work together if your child has a problem requiring both medicines to be used simultaneously. I’ve often written reports to pediatricians and specialists, like pediatric rheumatologists, to share a child’s treatment plan and herbal formulas I've recommended. I’ve found most doctors welcome such reports and want to collaborate with all health practitioners in order to ensure the best outcome for their patient. Shouldn’t this be the new and better pediatric health care paradigm? You know that you can use both medicines, but when do you use which medicine? Here is a chart comparing the 'conventional' medicine and pediatric acupuncture and that areas in which each excels. Overall one is not better than the other -- it’s simply a matter of using the right medicine for the right situation.
Remember that not even the greatest surgeon can heal a cut, only the body can. As a parent you are your child’s health care advocate and you need to trust in the innate healing capacity of your child’s body. Do your research, nourish your child with real food, and stay educated about your child’s health care options. Using the right medicine at the right time is the best way to ensure you’ll raise a happy and healthy child. The one thing I have not addressed in this post is what to do when your pediatrician refuses to provide medical care to your child because you're not vaccinating at the prescribed times or not vaccinating at all. This is a serious and growing issue in the United States and one I plan to tackle in-depth soon. So stay tuned.
What does Your Healthcare Team Look Like? Share Your Story in the Comments Below.
This post was shared on: TALU from Wrinkledmommy.com Party Wave Wednesday from Holisticsquid.com Real Food Wednesday from Kellythekitchenkop.com Thank Your Body Thursday from Thankyourbody.com Old Fashion Friday from Ourheritageofhealth.com Fight Back Friday from Foodrenegade.com Small Footprint Friday from Smallfootprintfamily.com Link Love from Mamaandbabylove.com Sunday School from Butterbeliever.com