Jane E. Brody recently wrote an insightful article for The New York Times featuring the benefits of alternative medicine.
Without bashing the importance of traditional medical treatments, Brody showed how people are using traditional medicine as a crutch, rather than listening to their body. In doing so, people are creating more pain for themselves and spending more money.
Here are a few key insights from the article.
See Pain As A Warning Sign
Brody quotes Dr. James Campbell, a neurosurgeon and pain specialist, who said that “the best treatment for pain is right under our noses.”
Pain, the acute kind, Brody writes, is our body’s way of sending out a warning that something is not right. More than that, it’s a signal that this pain ought to be addressed before things get worse.
When this pain isn’t addressed, when it isn’t even seen as a sign that something is wrong, then, Dr. Campbell explains, we “can learn to live with it.”
The problem is that pain can lead us to create bigger problems for ourselves. It can cause us to feel more stressed, more anxious, more depressed, and it can even put a strain on our relationships when it turns us into impatient and nervous people.
Stop Throwing Medication At The Problem
There are levels to ignoring pain. We can ignore it in the literal sense and become so used to it, that we don’t even realize that our mood is sour because of this pain.
We can also throw “powerful drugs at chronic pain problems,” as Brody writes but this option “may only add to the problem because ever higher doses are often needed to keep the pain at bay.”
Besides loading our body with medication, there’s also the question of cost. Chronic and recurrent back pain, Brody writes as an example, “afflicts approximately one-quarter of adults at a cost to the country in excess of $100 billion a year.”
There are a myriad of other conditions out there, some of which may require traditional medicine. But let’s take Brody’s back pain as the main example to ask ourselves an important question.
Why are people spending so much money to cure their back pain (and possibly causing other problems) when alternative treatment is available to address the problem at its core?
Alternative Medicine Has Major Benefits
Here at LLT, we believe in the power of alternative medicine but as Brody proves, we’re not the only ones who believe in holistic medicine. The American College of Physicians recently addressed the chronic back pain problem that is affecting so many Americans.
“A growing cadre of specialists,” Brody writes, “are exploring non-drug, noninvasive treatments, some of which have proved highly effective in relieving chronic pain.” The American College of Physicians has already issued “new nondrug guidelines for treating chronic or recurrent back pain.”
The cost-effectiveness and simplicity of some of these alternative treatments are features that make alternative medicine so much more alluring than traditional medication. Remedies like “superficial heat, massage, acupuncture or, in some cases, spinal manipulation (chiropractic or osteopathic).”
When it’s a case of chronic back pain, the College recommends “exercise, rehabilitation, acupuncture, tai chi, yoga, progressive relaxation, cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction.”
Brody notes how even Richard L. Nahin and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic center have done clinical trials to see the best alternative medicine and approaches to treating certain conditions.
For back pain, the team list “acupuncture and yoga […] acupuncture and tai chi for osteoarthritis of the knee; massage therapy for neck pain with adequate doses and for short-term benefit; and relaxation techniques for severe headaches and migraine.”
Your Mind Impacts Your Body More Than You Think
When you opt for the holistic approach, you are saying yes to really listening to your body and mind.
In her article, Brody also mentions a study conducted by Daniel C. Cherkin at the Group Health Research Institute where the team found that “both mindfulness-based stress reduction and cognitive behavioral therapy [which teaches people to restructure how they think about problems] proved more effective than ‘usual care’ in relieving chronic low back pain and improving patients’ function.”
Mindfulness can teach you to “get in touch” with yourself, you can “learn to relax, become ‘nonreactive’ to pain and not allow it to be the focus” of your life, Dr. Cherkin explains.
Now, doesn’t that sound like a healthier, more cost-effective alternative than taking medication and hoping things will get better?
If you’re interested in learning more about how a holistic, alternative treatment plan can help you manage pain or any other physical or emotional problem that is taking away from the quality of your life — contact us today by calling 813-609-6946.
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