By Dr. Michael E Rosenbaum, MD
Here’s a little secret when it comes to the medical field . . . While conventional doctors can talk to us about drugs and surgery, few are equipped to talk about health and wellness.
For this reason, a growing number of people consult with holistic doctors as well.
Holistic medical doctors take all the facets of our health into account when developing a path towards wellness. Holistic medicine is, simply put, medicine that treats the whole person.
Holistic doctors have earned medical degrees by going through conventional medical schools, and certainly sometimes they may tap into “pharmaceutical medicine” – recommending drugs or surgery. But that is only a small part of the healing practices they draw from. Because of its limited effectiveness in treating the root causes of illness, pharmaceutical medicine is rarely their first recommendation.
Instead, holistic doctors bring nutrition, lifestyle changes and emotional health into the picture as well. Sometimes they draw from other medical systems like Indian Ayurvedic Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, naturopathic, chiropractic and homeopathic medicine.
It is a rich and powerful form of healthcare that goes well beyond the limited scope usually found in conventional, pharmaceutical-oriented medicine.
Is Medicine Becoming More Holistic?
Currently, we’re seeing a dramatic shift in how medicine is practiced. Many holistic doctors have realized the limits of conventional Western health care and have taken the initiative to expand their expertise. Likewise, millions of people have taken control of their health and now seek out holistic doctors, opting for care that focuses on wellness.
Some medical schools—like University of Arizona’s School of Integrative Medicine—are expanding their medical courses to meet this new understanding of health. And some health insurance companies now cover holistic therapies like acupuncture.
However, conventional medicine, in many respects, also seems to be going in the other direction. In 2004 a group of researchers from the North Carolina University School of Nutrition surveyed 104 medical schools to see how much emphasis they placed on the topic of nutrition. They found that only 38 percent of the schools taught the 25 hours recommended by the National Academy of Sciences.
Given how important nutrition is for health, 25 hours is paltry compared to what doctors really need to serve their patients well.
Unfortunately, the results of this study did not improve with time. In 2010, these same researchers surveyed 105 medical schools. And this time they found the number of schools meeting this recommendation had dropped to only 28 percent. Also, these researchers found that fewer medical schools surveyed in 2010 required a dedicated nutrition course as part of their graduation requirements and the average number of hours each student spent studying nutrition had dropped as well.
By not learning much about nutrition, doctors are missing out on some important factors in healing. Thanks to a growing body of research we know in many cases nutrition does more for your health than medicine. Here are just a few examples . . .
- A handful of nuts a day does far more good for your heart than statins.
- Fish oil can do more for depression than many antidepressants.
- Digestive enzymes beat out prescription anti-inflammatories for joint pain and muscle problems.
But despite this evidence, if doctors want to delve into nutrition in any meaningful way, they must learn about it on their own time because, as the studies presented herein show, they won’t learn it in medical school.
Other healing modalities like acupuncture, meditation and herbal medicine that have solid research behind them also are being ignored in medical schools. This is despite the fact many of these “alternative” healing approaches yield better results than conventional medicine and are usually safer with fewer side effects.
Today, thanks to the global information age and the tremendous amount of research on non-conventional healing, we have access to more healing knowledge than ever before. That said, there really is no excuse for doctors to ignore the resources at our disposal to help patients enjoy good health. And—as the number of people using holistic doctors today demonstrates—patients don’t buy that excuse either.
Good health is the result of your whole body working together in relative harmony, and this means stepping outside of the constraints of conventional medicine.
Holistic doctors play a key role in helping medicine shift to embrace more solutions and offer you better choices. They work together with conventional doctors to provide complementary interventions. And, as board-certified medical doctors, they can offer an integrated approach that includes both conventional and alternative medicine.
By straddling these two worlds of healing, holistic doctors are bringing big changes to medicine that can benefit everyone. By bringing in nutrition, acupuncture, herbal knowledge and other practices, we can make healthcare more comprehensive, more effective and even more affordable.
Dr. Michael E. Rosenbaum is a 35-year veteran and widely recognized pioneer in the field of nutritional medicine, alternative healthcare and medical acupuncture. As one of America’s most respected experts in natural health and healing, Dr. Rosenbaum has been a frequent lecturer to professional medical groups and has participated in numerous television and radio talk shows. He is also an esteemed member of the Sun Chlorella Advisory Board, which helps guide the medical innovation behind Sun Chlorella products. Visit his website at drmichaelrosenbaum.com. You also can download a free copy of “Why Didn’t My Doctor Tell Me This?” at sunchlorellausa.com/why-didnt-my-doctor-tell-me-about In this eye-opening report, five pioneering natural health experts reveal nutritional secrets that can change your life.
Adams KM et al. Nutrition Education in U.S. Medical Schools: Latest Update of a National Survey. Acad Med. 2010 Sep;85(9):1537-42. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181eab71b.
Newman D. Mediterranean Diet vs. Cholesterol Pills—We Have a Winner. Huffington Post, October, 2013.
Jade K. Fish Oil More Effective than Some Antidepressants. Examiner, July, 2011.
Klein G et al. Efficacy and Tolerance of an Oral Enzyme Combination in Painful Osteoarthritis of the Hip. A double-blind, randomised study comparing oral enzymes with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2006 Jan-Feb;24(1):25-30.