Most classically trained physicians, including primary-care, allergists, pulmonologists, and otolaryngologists (including me) are starting to understand that chronic airway-digestive inflammatory disease (CAID) is caused by chronic inflammation and that the various diseases that make up CAID are connected. Yet practitioners outside of traditional Western medicine have always believed that the systems of the body are interconnected and that chronic inflammation plays a significant role in these disease processes. The practices associated with this philosophy have been somewhat haphazardly lumped together by the Western medical community as either “complementary,” “alternative,” “integrative,” or Eastern medicine, which I use as a generic term for these practices. However, there are important distinctions among these individual philosophies: each group has its own ideas on the way the body works and how to best approach and address CAID symptoms.
In the war between traditional Western doctors and Eastern alternative practitioners, it appears that proponents are on one side or the
other: Each group insists that you follow one type of practice while discarding the rest. Eastern practitioners were reluctant to accept Western ideas. Many Western practitioners disregarded these Eastern philosophies and their treatment modalities. Yet Western medicine can no longer deny their growing popularity. A recent study found that Americans made over 627 million visits to practitioners of alternative medicine in one year. A study by the Harvard Medical School found that one out of every two people between the ages of 35 and 49 regularly used at least one form of alternative treatment.
Today things are beginning to change. There are many classically trained physicians who have now incorporated complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) into their medical practices, providing the best of both worlds, and Eastern practitioners are now also working in concert with their Western allies. I am a proponent of the integration of these philosophies and treatments. Many medical schools now offer training in alternative medical approaches such as acupuncture, and many hospitals are starting to develop integrative medical centers. The prestigious National Institutes of Health has set up the Office of Alternative Medicine, and 34 medical schools in the United States have added elective courses in alternative medicine.
In my practice, I speak with practitioners from various Eastern philosophies on a daily basis, working together to provide my patients with the best care possible. I found that by tailoring a complementary program specific to each of my patient’s needs, I can extract the best of all that is offered and provide the most comprehensive treatment, allowing the greatest chance of relief from symptoms. My patients often report great results with many alternative therapies, including osteopathic treatments, chiropractic care, acupuncture and acupressure, yoga, and natural remedies. In my mind, each of these treatment options has their place in CAID management and total sinus health. This category explains many of my Eastern colleagues’ philosophies as they have been explained to me. I applaud these practitioners for bridging the gap between Eastern and Western medicine.
Remember, no one treatment will fit all people. Depending on your symptoms and diagnosis, some Eastern treatment options will be more
successful than others. It is, therefore, still important to discuss these options with your traditional doctor, so that together you can determine which course is appropriate for you.