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Board of Contributors: Western medicine doesn’t have all of the answers

  • In this photo taken Wednesday, May 21, 2014, Dr. Theresa Martez, right, a naturopath doctor who is a Medicaid provider through the state, provides massage therapy treatment to a patient at her office in Snohomish, Wash. Naturopathic doctors are licensed in more than a dozen states, including Washington, but only three have allowed them to be part of the Medicaid system. When naturopaths were added to the list of providers who can receive Medicaid reimbursements, it joined Vermont and Oregon. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

    In this photo taken Wednesday, May 21, 2014, Dr. Theresa Martez, right, a naturopath doctor who is a Medicaid provider through the state, provides massage therapy treatment to a patient at her office in Snohomish, Wash. Naturopathic doctors are licensed in more than a dozen states, including Washington, but only three have allowed them to be part of the Medicaid system. When naturopaths were added to the list of providers who can receive Medicaid reimbursements, it joined Vermont and Oregon. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • This photo taken on Feb. 6, 2009 shows a collection of homeopathic treatments in the office of homeopathic practicioner Begabati Lennihan, in Cambridge, Mass., including preparations made with robinia, castor bean, silver phosphate, and clippings of Wintergreen and rosemary. Like other homeopaths, Lennihan considers not just symptoms but also temperaments, favorite foods, even dreams. She took conventional nurse's training to bolster her homeopathic credentials. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

    This photo taken on Feb. 6, 2009 shows a collection of homeopathic treatments in the office of homeopathic practicioner Begabati Lennihan, in Cambridge, Mass., including preparations made with robinia, castor bean, silver phosphate, and clippings of Wintergreen and rosemary. Like other homeopaths, Lennihan considers not just symptoms but also temperaments, favorite foods, even dreams. She took conventional nurse's training to bolster her homeopathic credentials. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

  • Blue pills fall into the disposal receptacle for expired prescription drugs as they are poured out at the Allegheny County police station in North Park on Saturday, April 28, 2012, in Allison Park, Pa. This collection point is just one that is part of the the fourth National Prescription Drug Take Back Day hosted by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. The goal is to help prevent abuse of their purpose, to keep the drugs away from children they weren't intended for and to dispose of them in a safe and controlled manner. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

    Blue pills fall into the disposal receptacle for expired prescription drugs as they are poured out at the Allegheny County police station in North Park on Saturday, April 28, 2012, in Allison Park, Pa. This collection point is just one that is part of the the fourth National Prescription Drug Take Back Day hosted by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. The goal is to help prevent abuse of their purpose, to keep the drugs away from children they weren't intended for and to dispose of them in a safe and controlled manner. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

  • This photo taken on Feb. 6, 2009 shows a collection of homeopathic treatments in the office of homeopathic practicioner Begabati Lennihan, in Cambridge, Mass., including preparations made with robinia, castor bean, silver phosphate, and clippings of Wintergreen and rosemary. Like other homeopaths, Lennihan considers not just symptoms but also temperaments, favorite foods, even dreams. She took conventional nurse's training to bolster her homeopathic credentials. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

    This photo taken on Feb. 6, 2009 shows a collection of homeopathic treatments in the office of homeopathic practicioner Begabati Lennihan, in Cambridge, Mass., including preparations made with robinia, castor bean, silver phosphate, and clippings of Wintergreen and rosemary. Like other homeopaths, Lennihan considers not just symptoms but also temperaments, favorite foods, even dreams. She took conventional nurse's training to bolster her homeopathic credentials. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

  • Blue pills fall into the disposal receptacle for expired prescription drugs as they are poured out at the Allegheny County police station in North Park on Saturday, April 28, 2012, in Allison Park, Pa. This collection point is just one that is part of the the fourth National Prescription Drug Take Back Day hosted by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. The goal is to help prevent abuse of their purpose, to keep the drugs away from children they weren't intended for and to dispose of them in a safe and controlled manner. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

    Blue pills fall into the disposal receptacle for expired prescription drugs as they are poured out at the Allegheny County police station in North Park on Saturday, April 28, 2012, in Allison Park, Pa. This collection point is just one that is part of the the fourth National Prescription Drug Take Back Day hosted by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. The goal is to help prevent abuse of their purpose, to keep the drugs away from children they weren't intended for and to dispose of them in a safe and controlled manner. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

  • In this photo taken Wednesday, May 21, 2014, Dr. Theresa Martez, right, a naturopath doctor who is a Medicaid provider through the state, provides massage therapy treatment to a patient at her office in Snohomish, Wash. Naturopathic doctors are licensed in more than a dozen states, including Washington, but only three have allowed them to be part of the Medicaid system. When naturopaths were added to the list of providers who can receive Medicaid reimbursements, it joined Vermont and Oregon. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
  • This photo taken on Feb. 6, 2009 shows a collection of homeopathic treatments in the office of homeopathic practicioner Begabati Lennihan, in Cambridge, Mass., including preparations made with robinia, castor bean, silver phosphate, and clippings of Wintergreen and rosemary. Like other homeopaths, Lennihan considers not just symptoms but also temperaments, favorite foods, even dreams. She took conventional nurse's training to bolster her homeopathic credentials. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)
  • Blue pills fall into the disposal receptacle for expired prescription drugs as they are poured out at the Allegheny County police station in North Park on Saturday, April 28, 2012, in Allison Park, Pa. This collection point is just one that is part of the the fourth National Prescription Drug Take Back Day hosted by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. The goal is to help prevent abuse of their purpose, to keep the drugs away from children they weren't intended for and to dispose of them in a safe and controlled manner. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
  • This photo taken on Feb. 6, 2009 shows a collection of homeopathic treatments in the office of homeopathic practicioner Begabati Lennihan, in Cambridge, Mass., including preparations made with robinia, castor bean, silver phosphate, and clippings of Wintergreen and rosemary. Like other homeopaths, Lennihan considers not just symptoms but also temperaments, favorite foods, even dreams. She took conventional nurse's training to bolster her homeopathic credentials. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)
  • Blue pills fall into the disposal receptacle for expired prescription drugs as they are poured out at the Allegheny County police station in North Park on Saturday, April 28, 2012, in Allison Park, Pa. This collection point is just one that is part of the the fourth National Prescription Drug Take Back Day hosted by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. The goal is to help prevent abuse of their purpose, to keep the drugs away from children they weren't intended for and to dispose of them in a safe and controlled manner. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Before your read any further, I want to be clear that I’m not a doctor – I don’t even play one on TV (give yourself 10 points if you get that reference). I have zero medical training. The experiences I’m about to share are my own. You should endeavor to do your own research and make choices that are best for you and your family.

I was raised on a Western medical perspective. Doctors were gods to be obeyed. Alternative/complementary medicine was for nuts who didn’t have the common sense to get themselves to an M.D.

As I got older and was exposed to alternate perspectives, I started doing my own research. Lately, three different experiences have really caused me to think twice before seeking traditional Western medical intervention.

My daughter was having gastrointestinal issues. She was in pain, and she was having trouble swallowing. We spent almost two years on the Western medicine path, including some pretty invasive tests. The incredibly knowledgeable and wonderfully personable doctor was unable to identify a cause. He recommended a long-term, off-label use of an antidepressant as that seemed to suppress the symptoms. Not ready to throw in the towel yet, I followed a recommendation from a family member and took her to a naturopath. One visit and a blood test later, we learned my daughter is extremely sensitive to eggs, gluten and dairy. Once we removed those foods from her diet, the pain subsided and she no longer had any trouble swallowing.

I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal imbalance. Some women can be severely affected. My symptoms are on the moderate side, but it made getting pregnant a challenge. It makes it hard to lose weight and causes acne and facial hair.

I spent a few years under the care of an endocrinologist who prescribed a cocktail of drugs, which had minimal effect on my symptoms. I started to see the naturopath, and she prescribed an herbal supplement (by a reputable manufacturer). I’ve seen a big improvement in just two cycles.

I also have diverticulosis, a condition where the lining of the intestine has small pouches. When the pouches become inflamed, it causes severe pain and gastrointestinal distress. I take a probiotic regularly, and with good preventative care, it’s usually not an issue. The first two times I had a flare, the treatment was industrial-strength antibiotics; the kind of antibiotics where sometimes I wondered if the cure was worse than the illness.

With the third flare, I consulted the naturopath. She recommended a diet of clear liquids for 48 hours (this is standard operating procedure) and castor oil on my stomach with a heat pack twice a day. I was solo parenting without backup for four days, so I had to function. I knew that the antibiotics would wipe me out. I decided to try the alternate treatment for 24 hours. If I wasn’t seeing improvement, I’d go the antibiotic route. I never needed the antibiotics. Late in day two, I was able to start soft foods, and I returned to a normal diet by day four.

One of the healthiest people I know says Western medicine doesn’t work for her. She sees a chiropractor regularly, exercises regularly and consumes food that nourishes her body. That is to say lots of vegetables, healthy grains and proteins (including red meat), and minimal junk food. She’s rarely sick, but the Affordable Care Act won’t cover her chiropractic care or the supplements she takes to boost her digestion and immune system. She’s being “forced” to pay $300 for insurance that covers services she doesn’t use.

I’m not slamming Western medicine; my kids have the required vaccinations, and when my daughter showed signs of concussion, my first call was to the pediatrician. That said, more than six weeks into her recovery, I’m convinced her stalled healing was jump-started by the manipulation of her neck by the osteopath on staff.

I’m suggesting that maybe we should take a balanced approach to medical care, and that it’s time we change our focus from reactive medical care to proactive medical care.

(Lee Laughlin of Loudon is a freelance writer, social media marketer, wife and mother of two.)

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