Author: Mackenzie Heidkamp
Americans have grown accustomed to the practice of Western Medicine in the States. A typical encounter with western-medicine practicing doctors will result in the prescription of one or multiple drugs to mask the prevalent problem the patient is facing. Dr. Ralph Synderman from Duke University sums it up by saying, “What we have now is a ‘sick care’ system that is reactive to problems”. That is why, experts across the globe urge physicians to try and find the root of a patient’s problem instead of trying to cover up the symptoms. A prime example was discovered during an interview with a resident from Phoenix, Arizona. “At the age of 56, I suddenly started having terrible asthma attacks”, said Christopher Heidkamp, “I went to the doctor, and they prescribed me with a strong inhaler, but my symptoms did not fully go away”. After struggling for years with numerous doctors, Christopher finally discovered the cause of his burdensome asthma. Apparently, he had been struggling with acid reflux, which caused his asthma by getting acid in his lungs. He finally understood why the inhaler could not ease his pain, and why he was ever in pain to begin with. Without the need for Prescriptions, his doctor put him on a non-acid diet to help improve his lung problems. The concept of looking at a patient holistically in order to best treat the patient, such as the scenario with Mr. Heidkamp, should be better integrated into American Healthcare.
There are multiple forms of alternative medical practices. Integrative Medicine is the exact term for a full exploration of a patient ranging from emotional to physical in order to comprehend the complete picture. Another form of practice is Functional Medicine, which is very similar to integrative medicine, where doctors search for the root causes of a patient’s problem opposed to resulting to medication. Both of these similar types of medicine are becoming more popular around the country since people desire closer physician to patient relationships with a better understanding of their own bodies. According to the American Board of Physician Specialties in 2008, 38 percent of Americans sought out practices similar to integrative medicine, and the number continues to rise. This statistic alone proves a patient’s desire for answers about their health, and the story of people going to 10+ doctors before discovering their illness/disease has been told way too many times. As of right now, doctors should be attempting to switch over into these practices opposed to western medicine, until future physicians discover a more efficient way of treating patients.