My journey is not unique. Medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS) and medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) are one of the most common problems in modern Western Medicine, and account for 15%-30% of primary care patients. According to a task force of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), “medically unexplained syndromes (MUS) present the most common problems in medicine.” Examples of MUPS and MUS comprise fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), unexplained headaches, unexplained back pain, and chronic pain. Critics believe the reason that MUPS and MUS occur is due to the method in which modern Western Medicine employs doctors and nurses to utilize a deductive formal scientific process in the effort to find the cause of a patient’s problem. Moreover, once discovered, Western Medicine relies extensively on industrially produced medications and conventional medical treatments (e.g., surgery, test/procedures). “There are natural therapies available that are much safer, often more effective, and cost much less” than prescription medications, says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of the book Real Cause, Real Cure. Therefore, many patients like myself are taking matters into their own hands, and experimenting with alternative treatment methods within the Eastern Medical tradition. Eastern Medicine views health as a state of wellbeing, where the body is vital, balanced, adaptive, and harmonic within an environment in which the mind and body are interconnected. Alternative, Eastern Medicine also engages patients to adjust their diets (e.g., eating less meat and eating more organic whole foods, especially vegetables), introduce exercise (e.g., yoga, tai chi), as well as promote treatment types such as homeopathy, acupuncture, aromatherapy, and massage therapy.
This is not a matter of right or wrong, good or bad, but a matter of finding a healthy balance in which we as individuals educate ourselves about our own health and pivot to embrace both traditional spectrums. In turn, we can create an integrative treatment plan that is a combination of therapeutic approaches tailored to the individual person and their specific needs. For example, individuals with fibromyalgia can introduce dietary changes entailing the avoidance of food additives (e.g., monosodium glutamate [MSG] and aspartame), eating more fish containing Omega-3 fatty acids (i.e., salmon), as well as walnuts and flaxseed, stopping any and all caffeine intake, and eating more vegetables to help reduce the symptoms, particularly chronic pain. Other diseases and illnesses that can benefit from the inclusion of Eastern Medicine are high cholesterol, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, acid reflux, and diabetes.
Furthermore, ailments such as pain, stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression , and even a common cold can also be relieved through the use of Eastern Medicine with methods embodying acupuncture, a healthy diet, vitamin supplements, herbal treatments (i.e. chamomile tea), and exercise. For example, individuals who experience insomnia can stop drinking caffeine and start drinking chamomile tea, or take melatonin to aid in sleeping. Also, individuals who suffer from depression can adapt their diet to increase Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as taking an Omega-3 supplement (i.e., Vectomega), since fish oil can have an anti-depressent effect. Lastly, those suffering from a common cold can try the Chinese root astragalus to help fight infection, echinacea and zinc to shorten the duration and severity of the symptoms, and Vitamin D to boost immunity. Food, including herbs and vitamins, is the cheapest and safest way to maintain our health.
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