Patients Win When Alternative & Traditional Medicine Unite As One – Complementary Medicine
Historically the term “alternative medicine” has created all sorts of imagery for the “non-traditional” treatments of illness. The “traditional crowd” often excused the “non traditional crowd” as lacking in scientific proof or were shysters trying to make a buck off those who had exhausted traditional options.
By the same token the “non-traditional crowd” frowned upon the “traditional crowd” who had failed their patients using traditional methods and then criticized the non traditional crowd for trying to help those who had been relegated to disease, death or permanency in their existing conditions. With chronic pain often the chant was “if you just take aspirin, bed rest, and hot/cold treatments then in 85% of the cases the pain will naturally go away anyway”, which ignores reality of the chronic pain patient who did do that, and much more, with no success therefore they went from acute to chronic.
Having returned from the American Academy of Pain Management there is a new treatment paradigm emerging which integrates both approaches. It’s called “Complementary Medicine”.
The basis of complementary medicine is to enhance the outcome of traditional treatments with that of alternative treatments. Both crowds agree the patient’s mental state is very important in success and using chemo as the traditional treatment, the alternative treatment may involve Yoga exercises to increase the efficacy of the chemo. It is felt there are many opportunities to help patients by integrating the two camps in medicine. Massage may help with migraines, visualization may help with stress, aromatherapy with anxiety, electricity with bed sores, etc.
One critical issue with the use of medications is to get enough of the medication to the area, in sufficient dosage, without overdosing our other systems in the process. An example is when medicine is administered orally, by mouth, the dosage has to be considerably higher than what is needed, where the medicine is needed, solely due to the stomach/intestines diluting the dosage before passing through the circulatory system. Often the digestive tract is irritated and secondary adverse reactions occur. Dosage is a variable and very difficult since it changes from patient to patient as well as treatment by treatment. Our bodies are not static and that is one of the reasons medicine is an art, not a science. You take patients as they are, not as you wish they were.
In the above situation of delivering medications to an area in sufficient strength to be beneficial an alternative method is to do it by iontophoresis, by direct current electricity. In this specific the digestive and circulatory system are bypassed. Limitation is medication must be water based, not petroleum. Dosage needed is 5-7% of what would be needed for oral medication.
When we looked at trying to understand how interferential therapy was providing carryover pain relief one consideration is the increase of cell permeability. If you direct medication to an area, that is done to increase absorption in the target area. It does no good to deliver a medication to the affected area but the cells and tissues can not uptake it. By changing the cell permeability, or method to enter the cell wall/membrane, you now get the medication where it can help. In this instance it may be advantageous to complement the iontophoresis process with interferential therapy so the uptake is improved.
There is also a huge undeveloped area of “prepping an area electrically”, prior to medication or treatments, so the target area is more likely to uptake the treatment. In non-union fractures, and chronic bed sores, the “prepping factor” is the change of the field to facilitate new cell growth. Outside medications or treatments are not necessary if the area can be prepped to utilize what the body can already provide. A classic example of Complementary medicine facilitating casting with bones or use of hydrogels with bed sores. They complement and heal. One enhances the outcome of the other.
The changing of cell permeability is also indicated in many cancer type treatments so the medication can be absorbed by the target cells, ie. cancer. Now its not a walk in the block as one must differentiate between target and non targeted cells which is not easily done.
The options for improved treatment outcomes is enhanced when the two schools of thought work together with the commonality of improving our human health. We seem to be moving in that direction, finally.