Complementary Medicine Coming to the Forefront

DCF 1.0

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At Stanford Medicine X 2014, I presented my vision of future care which included shared decision making and collaboration between the patient and three types of care teams- a food as medicine team, a musculoskeletal integrity team and a well-being team.

Could my vision be coming true?

Recently, there have been several articles describing the need for complementary and integrative approaches when treating autoimmunity, chronic illness, and other health concerns.

In an Atlantic article, “The Evolution of Alternative Medicine,” Jennie Rothenberg Gritz illustrates that integrative practices are actually growing in popularity over the decades. Gritz found that “what ties integrative doctors together is their focus on chronic disease and their effort to create an abstract condition called wellness.”

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Furthering the notion of wellness with diet, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America recently posted a webcast video highlighting foods and lifestyle practices that could help regulate Inflammatory Bowel Disease, however, these approaches could also be applied to autoimmune disease as a whole.

A few of the approaches mentioned include:

  • Foods: Aloe Vera Gel, Fish Oils, Glutamine, Curcumin, Boswellia Serrata, Cannabis, Probiotics, and more.
  • Practices: massage therapy, relaxation, hypnosis, yoga, Tai Chi, exercise, whole medicines (ayuerveda), and acupuncture

Soon after, a Yahoo article on posture was published. “Sit up smart!” says Esther Gokhale, who indicates that our “more sedentary lifestyle, a few extra pounds around the middle, or looking at the phone for hours each day” could be a cause of back pain in modernized nations. Gokhale created a series of exercises, stretches, and hacks for maintaining the proper posture that will decrease back pain and improve musculoskeletal integrity.  

Finally, Deepak Chopra outlines many examples of why he believes that integrative approaches are already mainstream. Chopra showed that integrative approaches have already significantly reduced diabetes, heart attack, stroke and cancer incidences.

If Chopra is not enough to convince you, this NIH National Health Statistics Report for the amount of spending on alternative and complementary approaches will. Perhaps the most shocking is that families with a total income less than $25,000 a year spend a substantial amount on alternative approaches and supplements. Sales of supplements and practices – acupuncture, yoga, chiropractic – have increased as well. Luckily for us, consumer demand has triggered academic research interest leading to increased validation of the value of these alternative approaches. 

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Can we infuse complementary medicine into chronic disease management?

I will be leading a workshop at this year’s Stanford Medicine X to better identify how to bring solutions to autoimmune patients.
Let us know what you think of our vision and what complementary approaches have helped you manage your autoimmune disease?

By Tiffany Simms and Bonnie Feldman

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