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Alternative Medicine Takes Strides in the Triangle

by Laurie Lynch, N.D.


Although overall I see the general state of health care in the triangle area continually improving and surpassing that of other parts of the country, there are both pros and cons to the current health care system.

The cons include high costs, harmful side effects of drugs and invasive diagnostic and surgical procedures, and the focus on controlling symptoms rather than eliminating causes of disease.

Jim Price, MSW, MPA said that Duke and UNC are losing doctors because they have to turn patients over every 12 to 15 minutes, and people are tired of this.

The pros of the state of health care here are many. David Leidich, D.C. sees this as the greatest area for health care because of all the diverse and alternative methods available. Price said that the universities are talking about integrated health studies. Both UNC and Duke have courses on alternative medicine, and Duke recently hosted a major holistic health conference.

A few years ago a statement was added to existing law to prevent license revocation for doctors practicing experimental alternative techniques unless these techniques are proven unsafe, thus allowing more freedom for physicians to practice what they feel is best for their patients. This area also affords more freedom of choice in health care for individuals. The General Assembly did not pass into law any licensing requirements for naturopaths and they are free to practice what they feel is best for their clients. However, licensing is required for acupuncturists, and a law to license Massage Therapists is now in progress.

Because of these new freedoms in health care, many and various alternative health care practitioners are being drawn to this area. As the damage done by diagnostic techniques and the harmful side effects of synthetic chemical medications are being brought to light, more people are looking for safe alternatives, and more physicians are turning to natural healing. I continually see clients who have tried various medical treatments and have found the side effects of the drugs or surgery to be worse than the original illness.

Consequently, there are many new alternative techniques coming into use. On the medical scene, David Hadden, medical software developer, explained that gene therapy, lasers, and photo-activated drugs are emerging, along with artificial intelligence software for disease diagnosis. The Internet has created resources where people can become self-educated and self-empowered. Government organizations are waking up to nutrition and pharmaceuticals companies are beginning to market nutriceuticals.

On the alternative scene, energy-healing, and intuitive diagnosis are being more widely accepted even in the medical community. Price has noticed increasing interest in self-empowered emotional release to get to root causes of emotional issues, in work with mind, body and spirit, with sound and light therapy, and homeopathy. Iridology, nutrition and herbs are rapidly growing in popularity. I believe this area of healing will be more widely used in the future.

Price feels people would like to try alternatives, but how do they pay for it? Medicare and other insurance coverage are useless for most alternative health care. But Chiropractic has won its battle, and Massage Therapy is beginning to win acceptance as well. Both are sometimes covered by insurance, even by a few HMOs according to Hadden. Dr.Leidich believes HMOs generally don't allow patients access to alternative care. He feels HMOs take control and decision making away from physicians and patients, and that this way of control hinders the nation. He feels patients would be better covered by a single-payer health care system, such as the one in Canada, noting that chiropractors are treated more fairly.

However, Hadden, who used to live in Canada, disagrees. He said patients often have to wait forever to get help, and have fewer choices in physicians and treatments. The patients have less control, but can have easier access, since they don't have to work for a specific company to get benefits; they just have to be a citizen. Price feels that such a system would not allow for greater access to alternative medicine because it is based on the disease model. Dr.Leidich said that it depends on what the government will standardize. People need free choice. Government and health care plans are in control, but the patient needs to be in control.

Many alternative health care systems aid patients to take control of their own health. In view of these developing changes, I believe the Triangle area will lead the nation in alternative health care in the near future.

  Laurie Lynch is a Naturopathic Doctor, Iridologist, Herbalist, Nutritionist and Wellness Consultant at the Living Well Health Center in Durham. Fax 403-5941, phone 490-1129, or drlynch@earthlink.net.  

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