Complementary and Conventional Medicine: Side by Side

By Bonnie Bloom

We no longer need to draw a line down the center of the medical decisions road and assign treatment or diagnostic options to one side or the other. If we eat organic food, meditate and take herbs, sometimes it is necessary and beneficial to have an x-ray or take an antibiotic. If we are following a treatment protocol recommended by our allopathic doctor, we can explore using energy based, nutritional, biochemical or bodywork options to support and even potentiate that treatment. We do not need to make a religion out of our healthcare.

Practitioners, in all disciplines, are choosing to develop an understanding of each other’s expertise and are becoming more willing to work together and to know when to refer. This is a wonderful emerging option for patients; and requires of the patient that they communicate clearly about their care choices. The exchange of information can improve outcomes by clarifying what is and isn’t working.

Each kind of practitioner has a unique capacity to support the patient in healing. As consumers, we can educate ourselves about how a modality works and when it is the best option and what its limitations are. We all know that overuse of antibiotics has far reaching impacts and we know that an x-ray or a surgery can be essential. Pulse diagnosis in acupuncture is a great tool for reading the body’s condition but will not diagnose a broken wrist. On the other hand, making dietary changes and using the support of herbs and/or acupuncture can often help avoid gall bladder surgery.

We need to learn how and when to use a specific diagnostic tool or treatment. These are choices that are best made in open dialogue with our providers, with adequate information gathering, some experience and thoughtful intuition.

Herbs can augment the effect of some medications’ or they can change the way they work. This is important information. Nettle leaf can improve the effect and duration of arthritis medications, which can mean that lower doses of the pharmaceutical can be taken. On the other hand, St. Johnswort should never be used if someone is taking an SSRI. All this information is available easily and rather than avoiding herbs completely or using them blindly, we can educate ourselves and engage a skilled team of practitioners.

When is it essential to get a CT scan and when would another tool without a lot of radiation be adequate in the situation? We should ask questions and expect answers. Our providers need also to ask and seek answers and be open to the discussion with us.

I had Lyme disease last year. During the diagnostic process, after a conversation with Dr Chesney, a lyme-literate naturopathic physician at Sojourns, she suggested that some of my symptoms might not be lyme, and I might want to do a blood test for a B12 deficiency. I went to my medical doctor near my home, and he, after listening again to my history, ordered the labs. I learned that I had had a long-term extreme Vitamin B12 deficiency that had gone unnoticed because the symptoms were not clear and it is not tested for in a routine physical. My levels were way below normal but with the ND’s knowledge and my MD’s reflection, and the gift of blood work and subsequent supplementation, I was helped immeasurably.

We need to take responsibility for our own health and we need to access the help that is available to us. We want our providers to be open to each other, so that together we can create the best healthcare plan for the best outcomes.

Bonnie Bloom is a Herbalist & Jin Shin Jyutsu Therapist at Sojourns Community Health Clinic. For more information please contact Sojourns Community Health Clinic at 802-722-4023, 4923 US Route 5, Westminster, VT, Find us on Facebook and check out our blog:

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