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April 2, 2016
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There is an enormity of evidence that Integrative Medicine (IM) is becoming the norm rather than the rarity.[1]

Physicians across the globe are now integrating alternative / complementary therapies into their practices as pharmaceuticals become more dangerous to use lessening the effect of traditional / conventional treatments.

With progressively degenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's, LBD or Alzheimer's, the treatment goals are to alleviate pain, decrease stress and improving quality of life. Due to the serious issues with many of the drugs when normally used to meet these goals, traditional medicine has been only minimally effective.

Alternative therapies are often welcome additions to the traditional treatment regimen. These less conventional modes of treatment have the advantage of being much safer than traditional drug treatment while often being even more helpful. Caregivers can also benefit from these therapies.

Many Americans have never heard of Integrative Medicine, but this movement has left its imprint on many of the nation's hospitals, universities, and medical schools.

The Duke University Center for Integrative Medicine is a classic model of integrative care. It combines conventional Western medicine with alternative or complementary therapies, such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage, biofeedback, yoga, and stress reduction techniques ... all in the effort to treat the whole person. Proponents prefer the term "complementary or alternative" to emphasize that such therapies are used to complement mainstream medicine, and not used as replacements for standardized medical treatments.

Integrative medicine got a boost of greater public awareness and funding after a landmark 1993[1] study. This study showed that one in three Americans had used an alternative therapy.

In the past decade, integrative medicine centers have opened across the country. According to the American Hospital Association, the percentage of U.S. hospitals that offer complementary / alternative therapies has more than doubled in less than a decade, from 8.6% in 1998 to almost 20% in 2004. Another 24% of hospitals said they planned to add complementary / alternative therapies in the future. [1] [2]

Treating the Whole Person:

Both doctors and patients alike are bonding with the philosophy of integrative medicine and its whole-person approach designed to treat the person, not just the disease.

IM, depends on a partnership between the patient and the doctor, where the goal is to treat the mind, body, and spirit [3], all at the same time.

While some of the therapies used may be non-conventional, a guiding principle within integrative medicine is to use therapies that have some high-quality evidence to support them.

Providing Options:

There are high levels of public interest in the various complementary and alternative therapies available today. Many people with dementia, and those who care for them, are interested in using these therapies as additions to their conventional treatments, often due to the benefits that they may bring and the image of being 'safe' and 'natural'.

This following explains what complementary and alternative therapies are, and outlines several therapies for which there is some evidence of their effectiveness.

Keep in mind, therapies that are considered 'complementary' or 'alternative' in one country may be considered conventional in another. In recent years, the WHO (World Health Organization) has brought researchers together from around the world to work together to find cures and / or therapies for a host of dis-eases. This has opened the minds of physicians worldwide and is reasonable for the blending of modern medicine and alternative therapies becoming more popular in countries where medicine is highly regulated.

What are Complementary and Alternative Therapies?:

The term 'complementary and alternative' covers many diverse forms of therapies.

Complementary and alternative therapies are a broad range of treatments that are outside of conventional medicine and are an alternative approach to promote health and well being while enhancing or complementing any conventional treatment. Many countries such as Canada, view alternative therapies as "preventative" and are often incorporated into daily lifestyles.

The area of complementary and alternative therapies is controversial and changes regularly. Therapies that are currently considered alternative may become more main-stream over time, as researchers discover their effectiveness and they become integrated into mainstream health care practice. Examples of alternative therapies are: aromatherapy and the use of essential oils, bio-feedback, massage therapy, binaural beat Technology, meditation, sonic-entrainment, art therapy, puzzle / game therapy, chiropractic, kinesiology and acupuncture.

How Alternative Therapies Work With Conventional Medicine in Relation to Neurological Disorders:

Conventional Medicine:
In the US, conventional medicine is based on a biomedical model, where the focus is on treating the disease rather than the whole person. Drugs (Pharmaceuticals) are the most common method of treatment, and often the first order of defense. Invasive medicine, especially surgery, is also common.

There are several problems with this model of treatment for people with neurological disorders (NDs):

  • Drug sensitivity. The drugs may cause more problems than they fix. Anyone with, or at risk for, a Lewy body disorder is also at risk for severe drug sensitivity to many of the drugs used with these disorders. (This also includes anyone with any other dementia diagnosis since dementias are usually mixed.) Inhaled drugs used with surgery can also be problematic.
  • Age. Most people with NDs are elderly. The elderly in general respond poorly to many of the drugs used to treat dementia symptoms such as anxiety and depression. If the person is younger, the ND weakens the body so that it reacts as though it were elderly.

  • Response to surgery in the elderly. The inhaled drugs used in surgery can cause anyone to have symptoms of dementia for up to six months after the surgery. The drugs, along with the stress of surgery, may speed the process of any ND and may also cause a dormant ND to become active.

  • The quick fix. As patients, we often want a quick fix and we use a pill instead of changing our diet or lifestyle. We choose surgery instead of learning to live with the problem. Medical professionals hand out tranquilizers and pain pills instead of teaching people how to manage these problems.

  • Disease focus. When physicians focus on fixing the disease, they miss needs the person may have that are unrelated to the disease but may be affected by medical treatment. Nor do they see issues that may affect the treatment they prescribe. This focus can also result in a patient feeling as though they are less important to their doctor than the disease is.

  • Specialization. Physicians are often so specialized that a patient finds themselves going to many different doctors for problems that are really inter-related.

  • Treatment decisions. With traditional medicine, the physician makes the treatment decisions. That's what we pay them for. They have the education and training and so this often works well. However, with NDs, so much is unknown and so much is hands on. Caregivers usually know more about how their loved one reacts to specific treatments than the doctor does. They also often know more about the disorder involved. Caregivers need to be more directly involved in treatment decisions.

Complementary and / or Alternative Therapies:
Complementary and Alternative therapies consists of a wide range of health care practices, products and services seldom included in the traditional medical school curriculums or used in conventional medicine.

Most alternative therapies have the following in common:

  • The treatments are safer and often more effective than many conventional drugs prescribed for the same problems.
  • Therapies are person centered, with more attention and time spent with patients, caregivers and families.
  • The goal is to help the patient be more comfortable and to decrease stress and pain rather than to treat a disease.
  • The focus is on treating the whole person-the mind, body and spirit all at once.
  • Most therapies are non-invasive. With the exception of acupuncture, where small needles are inserted into the top surface of the skin, the skin is never broken.
  • Anything ingested will be "natural" rather than chemical.
  • Patients and caregivers are a vital part of the treatment team and both realize the effects and benefits.

Our Workshops:

Our workshops will take into account the whole healing process - mind, body and spirit using a variety of modalities from several schools of thought. Our therapies and their use are not diagnostic in nature but, as alternative therapies, are designed to complement / enhance your current medical treatment plan and are focused on patient and caregiver equally. We strongly suggest partnering with your health care provider when incorporating alternative therapies into your plan.

Scientific Evidence of the Mind, Body, Spirit Connection and Your Health:

Research over the last several decades demonstrates the fact that you cannot separate the mind, body and spirit in health and healing.

Dr. Trupti Gokani, M.D. wrote: "Research over the last several decades demonstrates the fact that you cannot separate the mind, body and spirit in health and healing." She adds, "The truth is your body was designed to be healthy. True health means that you are healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually."

Studies in the field of psychoneuroimmunology [4] are demonstrating the effects of the mind and spirit in healing the body.[5] Dr. Bruce Lipton, internationally recognized biologist and author of  "The Biology of Belief ", is a leader in teaching about the science of epigenetics [4]. His scientific experiments prove that your perception or beliefs, affect your health. His studies show that even if you have a gene for a certain disease, it is your beliefs that can turn that genetic issue off or on. In the acclaimed paper The Placebo Effect [5] you will see documentation regarding the placebo effect specific to Parkinson's patient's motor control.

Dr. H. Steven Greer conducted several studies, including a study with a 15-year follow up on women with breast cancer, and found evidence that attitude is linked to duration and survival of cancer.[6] [ 7] Dr. Greer's study was specific to cancer patients however; his belief extends to the effectiveness of treatment of any disease.

Dr. Trupti Gokani, M.D. continues, "When all 3 parts (Mind, Body and Spirit) are equal and balanced you not only feel good but your life is happier and more complete! Most healing programs work at the level of the body, forgetting the importance of your mind and spirit. This is why you may find yourself searching out multiple practitioners to support your journey to well-being."

Related Papers and Articles:

[1] Integrative Medicine at Academic Health Centers: A Survey of Clinicians' Educational Backgrounds and Practices Gillian Ehrlich, DNP; Travis Callender, ARNP; Barak Gaster, MD

[2] Statistics on Complementary and Alternative Medicine National Health Interview Survey - http://nccam.nih.gov/news/camstats/NHIS.htm

[3] Kulreet Chaudhary, MD / 10/10/2013 at 5:30 AM / doctoroz.com / The Mind - Body - Soul Connection

[4] Epigenetics BRUCE LIPTON, PHD - Author of "The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, and Miracles"

[5] The Journal of Neuroscience, November 9, 2005 o 25(45):10390 -10402 Symposium-Neurobiological Mechanisms of the Placebo Effect
Fabrizio Benedetti,1 Helen S. Mayberg,2 Tor D. Wager,3 Christian S. Stohler,4 and Jon-Kar Zubieta5
1Department of Neuroscience, University of Turin Medical School, 10125 Turin, Italy, 2Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, 3Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, 4School of Dentistry, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, and 5Department of Psychiatry and Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109

[6] Psychological Medicine / Volume 21 / Issue 01 / February 1991, pp 51-57 Copyright Cambridge University Press 1991 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291700014641  (About DOI), Published online: 09 July 2009
Relationships between emotional control, adjustment to cancer and depression and anxiety in breast cancer patients
Maggie Watsona1 c1, Steven Greera1, Linda Rowdena1, Christine Gormana1, Bernadette Robertsona1, Judith M. Blissa1 and Robert Tunmorea1a1 Cancer Research Campaign Psychological Medicine Research Group and the Section of Epidemiology, Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden Hospital, Sutton, Surrey

[7] P. Crichton In conversation with H. Steven Greer Published by The Royal College of Psychiatrists http://pb.rcpsych.org/ on February 17, 2014 Psychiatric Bulletin 2000, 24:189-192. http://pb.rcpsych.org/