The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday May 28th

Integrative medicine is the future

Drugs. We all use them — whether recreationally or to treat medical problems. And the thing is, we use them too often.

When you are choosing a treatment for a medical problem, there are better treatment options for you than prescription drugs.

One of the biggest problems with most prescription drugs is that they treat the symptoms of an ailment, without addressing the root cause of the problem.

The root of the problem most likely has to do with some aspect of your body being out of balance.

While you were taught in high school biology class that our bodies are based on chemical balances, one thing you probably weren’t taught is that our bodies also have a balance of different energies.

For example, being stressed can trigger an imbalance of energies, putting a strain on your immune system, causing you to get sick.
An emerging type of medicine called Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM for short) heals by restoring the energy balances within the body. Reiki, (pronounced Ray-key), acupuncture, and other techniques use touch and pressure points to restore this energy balance.

The other day, I was talking with Sarah Gibson, a friend of mine who is a Reiki healer. She explained that Reiki is a Japanese healing technique that uses touch and massage to heal the body and restore natural life energy balances. Her first experience with Reiki came when she injured her foot a few years ago and had been having ongoing pain. She met a Reiki healer who worked on her foot, and afterward, the pain was gone.

After hearing this, I was skeptical and couldn’t help thinking that Reiki sounded more like some sort of hippie trend than a legitimate healing tool.

But I discovered that our own UNC Hospitals regularly use Reiki, acupuncture and several other integrative medicine techniques to treat patients in the Lineberger Cancer Center. Providers there couple Reiki with chemo treatments to counteract its destructive nature.

This coupling of Western medicine and alternative techniques, called integrative medicine, is a model which is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, 38 percent of American adults used complimentary and alternative medicine in 2007.

Often, when we think of “healing” in Western medicine, we think of it in the physical sense of the word. With a broken bone or a torn muscle, we get surgery, do the physical therapy and expect our bodies to go back to the way they were before the injury.

Integrative medicine suggests that the healing process must be more holistic, and must include a healing of the mind and the body’s energy fields.

I encourage you to ask about integrative medicine the next time you go to the doctor. Chances are, your doctor will encourage you to try it, but will warn you that it will be expensive, since it is not covered by most medical insurance plans.

If enough patients ask about integrative medicine and enough doctors support it, eventually insurance companies will have to cover it. So go ahead and ask away, with your help our society can see progress toward more holistic, integrative medical treatments.

Sarah Dugan is an At-Large Columnist for The Daily Tar Heel. She is a senior environmental health science major from Asheville.

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