In simple terms, allopathic care refers to mainstream or Western medicine and encompasses various treatments for symptoms of disease by way of medication, surgery, radiation, prevention strategies and other procedures. Naturopathic medicine, also sometimes referred to as complementary or alternative care, emphasizes the self-healing process through holistic prevention methods and the application of natural therapies. Not only is it possible to successfully integrate both allopathic and naturopathic care, but new studies reveal an integrated approach to healthcare is highly beneficial, whether the patient is managing health or addressing a chronic condition. To ensure safety and efficacy in any treatment plan, keep the following in mind as you build your wellness team.
Find Practitioners Open to Both Perspectives
When integrating both natural and allopathic healthcare options, it’s important to find practitioners who are open to both perspectives of medicine. Think of your Western medicine and alternative care practitioners as branches of the same team. This will be a lot easier to manage if you are working with care providers who are familiar with and supportive of a holistic approach to managing health. Ask your providers up front how they feel about an integrated holistic approach, and choose to work with those who are open to a whole-body health plan.
Communication Is Key
It is critical that you are completely transparent with your care providers about what types of therapies you are choosing to utilize in your care plan. For example, when undergoing traditional Western treatment for certain types of cancers, patients may also opt to engage in complementary therapies that are designed to support the body, like acupuncture or colon hydrotherapy. It is essential that both your medical and alternative care practitioners are aware of your choices. Be forthcoming with your wellness providers to ensure your course of treatment is safe and to avoid contraindications.
Make a Budget
It’s common for patients to self-pay for alternative or naturopathic care, as many of these treatments may not be covered by insurance. If you have an insurance plan that covers alternative care, it is a good idea to call your coverage provider ahead of your appointments to find out what services and providers are covered under your plan. If you are able, set up a Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for complementary services. If budget is a concern, seek out holistic practitioners who offer sliding scale pricing and ask about payment plans. Another affordable option is community acupuncture, where sessions take place in a large room with other patients, as opposed to a private room. Prioritize the services that are most critical to your well-being, then make a budget that is manageable for you to maintain.
The most important thing to remember while on an integrated wellness journey is to always keep curiosity at the forefront. On any healing path, the information overload can be overwhelming so pace yourself. Cultivate an open mind. Learn from vetted experts with varying backgrounds and perspectives. Join an online support group for folks dealing with similar health challenges. Find a favorite new wellness podcast and never miss an episode. Above all, tune into your innate body wisdom. The power to heal is yours. Learn to listen to the signals your body gives while on your healing journey and always act in favor of your well-being.
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