When I was going through chemotherapy I feel like I was on a million different medications. I had my three chemotherapy drugs, my anti-nausea drugs, the drugs to improve my white blood cell count, anti-anxiety medications, medication to help me sleep and medication to help boost my blood pressure. Oh, and medication to help flush my kidneys because all the medication in my body was so toxic it was too much for my kidneys to handle.
I felt like I was losing my mind. I didn’t know what to do and every time one medication gave me a side effect another medication was given to me to help counteract it. Finally my psychiatrist recommended I try acupuncture. I thought it was ridiculous, until the acupuncturist told me his main goal was to get me off all the medications, except the chemotherapy drugs. Guess what? He did.
I have a decent amount of friends who are western medical doctors. Being an EMT and working a lot with people in the western medical field, it’s easy to make a lot of friends. I’m lucky, I’ve always found doctors, physicians assistants and nurse practitioners that are very open minded. I’ve always been able to discuss ways that eastern and western medicine can work together, and almost all my western medical friends come in for acupuncture treatments on a fairly regular basis to keep them feeling good.
That being said, I’m often reminded of the broken healthcare system we have in place. One of my friends, who is an MD and works in private practice, was told by the hospital he is associated with that he has a certain number of drug requirements each month. For example, if he sees 10 people with hypertension (high blood pressure) he has to prescribe a minimum of 8 of them medication.
My jaw still drops thinking about how insane that is.
In Chinese Medicine, there are so many ways to work with hypertension, and medication would be the last thing I would advise someone to start with. Now, I do feel as if I need a disclaimer here. Not all doctors are working within that system and most are actually trying to help their patients. Doctors can and do find ways around this directive. For example, if there is a patient who is extremely inflamed the doctor will prescribe medication for them for a month and tell them this will kickstart their body to help them feel better while also giving them a new diet plan and supplements to take to prevent them from having to stay on the medication. The other thing doctors might do is write the prescription for the medication and ask the patient to give it a month or so before filling it. This gives the patient time to adjust their diet, exercise and use other methods of treatment such as acupuncture and chiropractic before using the medication. That way they fill their quota and the patient still benefits.
I recently looked up an MD for a patient, she was looking for someone who specializes in functional medicine and wanted a recommendation. The first thing I saw when I went on this MD’s website was his about me and it stated “looking to treat the root of the problem, not just cover it up with medication.” I wanted to jump for joy.
Finally someone looking to help the real problem and not just offer a temporary solution.
The problem with overprescribing medication is that often the medication will stop working as well. Just like with Chinese herbs, people aren’t made to be on medication for years. Most medication should be used as a way to help someone temporarily until something the person is able to make changes and help their body to heal naturally.
So my recommendation to you next time you go to the doctor is to listen to what he/she is saying. Are they making dietary recommendations? Are they spending time speaking with you and learning about you, or are they looking at you for two minutes and writing a prescription? If your doctor doesn’t automatically tell you alternative ways to help make sure you ask and see what their position is on alternative forms of healing, it can be very telling. A few insurance companies have even changed their ways and are using acupuncture instead of opioids. When in doubt, always get a second opinion. Even when I have patients come into my office and they seem unsure I always offer to refer them to someone else for a second opinion if they feel uncomfortable. Always remember, its your body and it’s important to treat it the best way possible.