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We all want to make the best use of our healthcare dollars, but choosing a doctor can be a very stressful experience. Do you go to a medical doctor, an acupuncturist, a chiropractor, or a naturopath? We have many choices in the US, allowing us to choose the right doctor for the right condition.
But how do we navigate these choices?
Before we can choose a doctor, we must first choose the correct system of medicine for our needs.
There are three major healthcare delivery systems to choose from: Allopathic or Western medicine, Naturopathic medicine, and Traditional or Indigenous systems of medicine.
In fact, each of these systems of medicine plays a fundamental role in what I might call, "a balanced approach to health care." Knowing which to choose, and when, will help you create the healthcare dream team you deserve.
Join me as I explore and evaluate each of these health care systems, and build your team now, before you have an issue or illness.
Allopathic (Western) Medicine
Allopathic, or western, medicine is practiced by medical doctors (MDs) and is designed to save lives and eradicate the symptoms of disease. It focuses on the treatment of disease and uses pharmaceutical drugs to suppress the expression of that disease.
In general, western drugs are designed to do the job for the body. For example, if you have high blood pressure, a medicine to lower the pressure might be prescribed, with the knowledge that this drug will never treat the cause of the hypertension.
At the same time, high blood pressure for any length of time will significantly increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. So, while the medicine will not cure the blood pressure, it may extend a life by preventing a cardiovascular event. Without this kind of intervention, many people would die unnecessarily.
The downside to western medicine is that pharmaceutical drugs often have side effects, or they stop working because the body builds a tolerance to that drug.
In the best case scenario, the drug masks pain, saves or prolongs a life. In the worst case scenario, the medications cause side effects that require more medications with more side effects. All too often, this results in a situation where medical doctors keep adding medications to address the side effects, instead of replacing the ones that are not working.
Seniors can end up stacking or combining ten or more meds, and even the best biochemist would be challenged to predict the interactions and potential side effects.
This scenario has given western medicine a bad reputation in some circles, with segments of the population totally against any sort of western medical intervention.
Personally, I feel this is a dangerous attitude.
I have seen in my practice on numerous occasions, parents reluctant to take their children to a medical doctor for a cold because of fear they would just prescribe antibiotics.
Make no mistake about it, antibiotics save lives. I have seen children die because parents waited too long to have their child seen by a doctor out of a reluctance to give antibiotics.
Are there safe and effective strategies to avoid needing antibiotics? Yes! I wrote my book, Perfect Health For Kids, to help educate parents in preventative strategies so that children's colds last just two days, rather than two weeks, while encouraging parents to use western medicine when needed.
Though, while raising our six children we have only needed antibiotics a couple of times, I would shudder to think of having to raise children without access to them or western medicine in general.
When to See Your MD:
I always tell my patients that if you are debating whether or not to go see your MD about a certain condition or symptom, you should definitely go. If you are concerned that they will only prescribe antibiotics and you want a more cause-directed approach, be careful. Do not overlook a potentially serious infection that needs urgent antibiotic treatment.
Remember, at the same time you can also consult with your traditional or naturopathic doctor about cause-based strategies, how to mitigate the side-effects of medication, and support the immune system during a course of treatment.