New Approaches to Health Care “Alternative” Therapies Now Mainstream for Many Families - Page 2

Author // Jolene Gensheimer

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New Approaches to Health Care “Alternative” Therapies Now Mainstream for Many Families
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Jaimie Edidin of Seattle, who takes his two daughters to Drs. Doroshow and Vasudeva, believes this is a powerful approach and appreciates the open dialogue. “They listen to the parents. It is not the traditional thing where, as a parent, you listen to the doctor and say, OK, I will do whatever you tell me to do. It is not your typical ‘Take these five pills and you will feel better in the morning.’ They are open. They see the big picture and work for the betterment of your child.”

Edidin’s 4-year-old daughter Kaela sees a number of health care providers. Born with a rare infantile epileptic disorder, Kaela requires 24-hour nursing and a ventilator. She suffers from limited mobility and low energy.

“Prior to seeing my kids go through this, I thought chiropractic was just a bunch of bunk. No way. Now I go,” Edidin says. Kaela used to have about 1,000 seizures a day and is now down to 10–15, he adds, and they have weaned her off her seizure medication. He also notices that she has increased mobility and more energy after every chiropractic adjustment. The entire family now receives regular chiropractic care and says it has helped lower their stress levels and boost immune function.

Seattle Healing Arts, where Drs. Vega and Milliman both practice, has another unique approach to integrative health care. A variety of independent health care providers are housed in one building and share a common waiting room and front office. The providers, including medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, acupuncturists, chiropractors and licensed massage practitioners, also share office space.

“The concept of collaboration is a theme in the clinic. With the desks in one place, we hear each other’s conversations, we hear how each other talks to patients, and we have daily consultations together,” Vega says. Providers discuss new things they have learned and pool their knowledge when someone has a “clinical conundrum” such as a mysterious rash, he adds.

A practitioner’s specific health care training usually means a different approach to the same medical problem, something parents may want to keep in mind when choosing an alternative provider. “The standard of care in the conventional world of pediatrics might be to use an antibiotic in the first instance, where a naturopathic doctor might try to find an alternative for that,” explains Milliman, a family practice naturopath and an adjunct associate professor at Bastyr.

For example, the conventional standard with an ear infection is still to use antibiotics, but Milliman says that standard ear infections can be cured just as effectively and quickly without antibiotics. In the case of eczema, “Instead of first resorting to topical steroids, which we all prescribe, we might look at probable causalities for the eczema,” he explains.

“Naturopathic doctors prescribe antibiotics in Washington, and we are not averse to using them. However, if we do use them, we give the patient something like acidophilus to protect the digestive tract,” he adds.

Using food and diet to heal the body is another growing trend. Eating more whole foods as opposed to heavily processed foods gives the body more vital nutrients.

“Food is more than fuel; it is information,” explains Kelly Morrow, a registered dietitian with a master’s degree from Bastyr. She notes that diseases of inflammation such as allergies, eczema and asthma can be eased with essential fatty acids such as high quality fish oil supplements that are mercury-free.

Acupuncture’s popularity is clearly growing, too. “Acupuncture is basically a therapy where you are using the stimulation of specific points in your body which are located on meridians, or channels, that run throughout your body,” Kundu explains. It is most commonly used and studied as acupuncture analgesia, or pain relief, and she is able to replace or reduce the amount of external substances needed to fight pain, such as morphine.

People choose acupuncture for a wide variety of reasons, including pain management, postoperative nausea and vomiting, asthma, allergies, sinusitis, medical illness, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, bedwetting and to fight side effects of cancer or medications.

She says the term needle is really a misnomer and compares it to a tiny, flexible toothpick. For wiggly little kids terrified of needles, Kundu has plenty of tricks up her sleeve. “I do acupuncture on myself, the parents or even on their favorite toy. I let them feel the needle and ask me questions, so there is a lot of preparation and creativity that goes into it,” she says, adding that distractions such as blowing bubbles sometimes work.

Studies of chiropractic care—which stereotypically is considered a treatment for adults with back pain but more broadly addresses the nervous system and its role in overall health—are also showing impressive results for children, including treatment for asthma, respiratory infections, colic, ear infections and ADHD.

Vasudeva points out that the way a child receives a spinal adjustment is very different from an adult adjustment. It looks more like a massage, and she compares the amount of pressure to the amount you would use checking to see if a tomato is ripe. And if her young patients are nervous, her pediatric chiropractic table shaped like a bus with an enticing net of sea creatures hanging above helps encourage the youngsters to relax.

“In this society we base so much on symptoms,” Vasudeva says. “When we are in pain we are not well, and if we are not having pain we seem to think we are OK—but that is where we are lagging and have to think more progressively.”

Pathways Issue 14 CoverThis article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #14.

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