In the past decade, the idea of merging conventional and so-called alternative medicine has become more accepted by doctors across the country and especially here in Colorado.
Once thought of as experimental or odd, patients are now finding acupuncture, massage therapy and herbal remedies, to name a few, as approved complements for their conventional treatments.
Dr. Lisa Corbin runs the Department of Integrative Medicine at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora. To her, "integrative" means that medical professionals are blending the best available options for each patient and encouraging them to have open minds to new treatments.
"We are integrating the care. So by that, I really mean we are facilitating an acupuncturist talking to a patient's physician directly," said Corbin.
Patients who integrate treatments often see the benefit.
"I can't say enough about how this has helped me. I swear by it," said Michelle Smith after a recent acupuncture session at the University of Colorado Hospital.
For the past seven years, Smith has been battling breast cancer with conventional chemotherapy. She turned to the non-traditional to handle side effects.
"Conventional medicine did OK, but it didn't do the trick all the way. My quality of life was nothing like it is now," said Smith.
Acupuncture sessions are now part of every chemotherapy treatment. It is the one thing than cures her nausea without using more drugs.
"I'm not sure that I would have been able to endure all of the chemotherapy treatments. I would have given up," said Smith.
"Michelle's still without evidence of cancer and uses acupuncture. It was the magic bullet for her to enable her to get that curative therapy," said Corbin.
Treatment results will vary for each patient.
Corbin recommends discussing individual options with your own doctor as the first step when it comes to considering alternative therapies.
"I'm biased, but I think that's the best way to use these treatments because there are some great treatments out there, but there are some harmful ones, too. Some that are great on their own can't be blended with other prescriptions. By fostering the integrative approach you can ensure the best efficacy and safety," said Corbin.
For more information visit Department of Integrative Medicine at University of Colorado Hospital
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