We absolutely love it when patients bring in or send us emails of articles they have read or info they have received from their doctor or other health care professionals. While we try to stay current on health events and topics, it always beneficial for us to see what other professionals are saying, good or bad, right or wrong.

One of our favorite patients, Meliza (whose testimonial video you can see under Success Stories), brought us in an article today from the Mayo Clinic talking about Integrative Medicine.  For those who don’t know the idea behind Integrative Medicine is to combine traditional medicine with “alternative” treatments to give patients better care.  We find this thought amusing because while Integrative Medicine may be a new buzzword in Allopathic medicine, chiropractic has been practicing it for over 100 years. We combine the best of all “treatments” including adjustments, exercise, nutritional change and supplementation, etc. in order to build up the whole person in health and wellness, not just treat the symptom. In fact, that is where allopathic “Integrative Medicine” fails.  Even though they are using different tools such as acupuncture, deep breathing/yoga, exercise, nutrition, even spinal manipulation  to treat symptoms, they are doing just that, treating symptoms.  The philosophy behind treatment (even though the treatment may have less side effects than medication) is still the same, and for that reason it will ultimately fail in promoting health and wellness.

What really struck me in reading the article was its closing paragraph.  The article basically tried to describe and sum-up a number of so-called “alternative” therapies including homeopathy, naturopathy, acupuncture, nutritional supplemention, Reiki, Chiropractic, and others.  In talking about Integrative Medicine the article states, ” It’s not a question of using either conventional or complementary medicine.  It’s about using both the best of conventional medicine and the best of evidence-based complementary medicine.”  Two things about this sentence stand out to me.  One, the qualifier “evidence-based” in front of complementary medicine, and, two, the implication that conventional medicine is evidence based and therefore better (hence the use of the word complementary).

I want to speak a moment about evidence based medicine.  The definition of Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) as defined by Sackett in the British Medical Journal is “”Evidence based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients…,” “integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research…,” and “the more thoughtful identification and compassionate use of individual patients’ predicaments, rights, and preferences in making clinical decisions about their care”.  EBM speaks to the clinician’s (doctor’s) decision making in regards to making care recommendations, by these definitions chiropractors, acupuncturists, and other “alternative” practitioners can be and are evidence based.

The implication in the article is that all medicine is evidence based and that all medical practitioners used EBM methodology in making their recommendations.   This is simply not the case.  One-fifth of all medications prescribed and one-half to three fourths of all children’s medications are prescribed off-label, meaning they have not been tested for the condition for which they are being prescribed.  Unfortunately, in most cases parents are not informed that this is happening.

It ultimately comes down to your doctor.  Is he or she approaching your health holistically, taking a look at your whole person, looking to find the ultimate cause of your disease or symptom, and is working with you to promote the in-born ability of your body to heal?  Or are they taking a “medicine by numbers” approach, treating just your symptoms or the number on your blood or lab work, and sending you on your way?  From our perspective one of these two choices is the true, integrative, evidence based approach and one is not.  Which one would you prefer?

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