The views expressed here belong to the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Optometry Times or UBM Medica.
I hope you never doubt your doctor. I hope you never have a health problem that you can’t find a treatment to cure. I hope you never have to figure it out on your own after your doctor tells you he does not know how to help you or your child.
But if you do, I am writing this blog for you.
I frequently have patients report they are dissatisfied with their primary care provider’s care. They may think their PCPs fail to listen and address their concerns adequately, or they report their PCPs tell them nothing is wrong.
Sometimes I find nothing wrong. Sometimes I find pathology. It is not rare that I contact their PCPs reporting retinal hemorrhages or optic nerve edema or anything ending in -itis, only to be ignored by said PCP.
Previously from Dr. Schroeder-Swartz: Cosmetic dangers: Part 3—Keep patients informed, report cosmetic problems
I used to think it was because I was young and inexperienced. I became old(er) and experienced, then I thought it was because I was an optometrist (not a “real doctor”).
Then I had case after case of doctors not knowing what was wrong and not doing much about it.
I give them the benefit of the doubt, and I started referring around them. I also have learned that MDs are not the only option. For some patients, non-MD practitioners may hold the golden ticket to their health.
I am referring to “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) providers.
While these terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) describes them as follows. If a non-mainstream practice is used together with conventional medicine, it’s considered “complementary.” If a non-mainstream practice is used in place of conventional medicine, it’s considered “alternative.” These providers are more often complementary with Western medicine, but in my experience, MDs are not complementary in return.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) classifies different approaches into in these groups:1
• Natural products: dietary supplements and herbal remedies.
• Mind and body practices: meditation, prayer, relaxation and art therapies, as well as chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation, and massage. Human touch used to move or manipulate a specific part of your body is a common theme.
• Other complementary health approaches, such as Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, and naturopathy.
Doctors, health food stores, and vitamin shops have been promoting and selling natural supplements for years. No legal or regulatory definition exists in the United States for standardization as it applies to dietary supplements,2 so caution should be used when making recommendations.
I am fortunate to have several compounding pharmacies in my area that offer seminars and private consultations for supplementation. In my experience, patients with autoimmune disease, thyroid problems, hormone imbalances, chronic fatigue, and diabetes are more open to seek a compounding pharmacist’s expertise.
These pharmacists are excellent resources for recommendations for probiotics to address inflammation, immunity, and GI distress, as well as education regarding prebiotic foods, omega-3 fatty acids, digestive enzymes and other nutrients. Some practitioners offer saliva testing for cortisol, estrogen and testosterone levels and make recommendations on results.
1. Mayo Clinic. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/complementary-alternative-me.... Accessed 6/20/18.
2. National Institutes of Health. Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/DietarySupplements-HealthProfessional/. Accessed 10/30/17.
3. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Available at: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/chiropractic/introduction.htm. Accessed 10/30/17.
4. American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. Available at: http://www.aacom.org/become-a-doctor/about-om#infographic. Accessed 10/30/17.
5. The Feldendrais Institute. Available at: http://www.feldenkraisinstitute.com/about_feldenkrais/overview/?lid=nav_.... Accessed 10/30/17.
6. Alexander Technique. Available at: https://www.alexandertechnique.com/at.htm. Accessed 10/30/17.
7. Rolf Institute of Structural Integration. Available at: https://www.rolf.org/. Accessed 10/30/17.
8. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Available at: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/ayurveda/introduction.htm. Accessed 10/30/17.
9. Reiki.org. Available at: http://www.reiki.org/FAQ/WhatIsReiki.html. Accessed 10/30/17.
10. Healing Touch Program. Available at: https://healingtouchprogram.com/. Accessed 10/30/17.
11. Total Body Modification, Inc. Available at: https://www.tbmseminars.com/about_us. Accessed on 10/30/17.