Alternative Health Care Can Go Hand-in-Hand With Traditional Medicine
July 1, 2008
As an editor, publisher and owner of the Salt Lake-based monthly Catalyst Magazine for 26 years, Greta deJong says working at a desk all day makes her body feel crunched up. “When I experience neck problems or my hands are cramped from carpal tunnel — the things that come from working at a computer — I make an appointment with Carl Rabke, who I consider my body mechanic.”
Among Rabke’s specialties are massage, structural integration and Feldenkrais, a form of movement therapy designed to promote muscle flexibility, release tension and enhance balance. “After I take my body to Carl, I feel better,” says deJong.
DeJong also oversees the Catalyst Community Resource Directory, which includes hundreds of alternative health care entry options, including a large number of body work practitioners. She attributes the high number of providers to the fact that there are at least four massage schools in the Salt Lake area. She adds that it’s possible to choose among many treatments and practitioners in Utah.
Along with massage and Feldenkrais, deJong has explored other modalities, such as acupuncture, for stress-induced jaw pain. Dr. Todd Mangum of Web of Life Wellness Center has also helped deJong by offering treatments that increase the body’s resistance to stress and fatigue.
Mangum says that if a car doesn’t receive maintenance and isn’t properly oiled, it’s easy to predict what will happen. “It will run poorly or not at all.” He adds that the human body is similar in that proper nutrition, exercise and maintenance including body work such as massage therapy, reflexology and acupuncture help the body function more efficiently.
He explains that alternative medicine is more accurately described as complementary or integrative medicine, and can go hand-in-hand with traditional medicine to restore or build health. As a medical doctor who employs such medicine in his practice, Mangum is often approached by people regarding a wide array of specific health issues ranging from insomnia to muscular-skeletal problems.
The medicine techniques Mangum practices can be referred to as both integrative and complementary. While a traditional physician often specializes in treating a particular disorder — such as a dermatologist examining a mole — integrative medicine is more like family practice in that it integrates all of the pieces and includes the mind, body and spirit. Mangum begins each patient consultation with a survey of the person’s health that includes variables such as exercise, sleep, nutrition, supplements and hormonal analysis. Such medicine can also be termed as complementary. For example, a patient suffering from rheumatoid arthritis might visit a rheumatologist, yet complement that care with acupuncture to help with pain control and utilize meditation to help reduce stress.
“Such techniques can recharge people’s batteries and nurture them. They can find their favorite technique that resonates with them,” says Mangum. “People get a lot more done when they feel good, their brain is sharp and their bodies are finely tuned. This type of maintenance therapy improves the quality of life — not just productivity.”
Mangum asserts that while traditional medicine refers to itself as preventive medicine, it actually focuses on treating diseases rather than creating health. “They look for problems that already exist, to find a problem early and treat it, where true prevention is to prevent it from ever happening. Other modalities believe that vibrant health is achieved by working for it. People can have significant benefits when you tackle the root of the problem instead of the branches.”
Dr. Michael Cerami, a chiropractor with Millcreek Wellness, adds that alternative medicine techniques can provide early steps toward solving health problems rather than initially treating them with medication or surgery. “Often patients visit us when they haven’t found help anywhere else. It should be the other way around.”
Cerami says that progressive employers who are now faced with increasing health care costs are encouraging employees to become proactive in managing their own health. Alternative medicine treatments may also help in this regard.
“When insurance companies declare there is only a certain amount of dollars available for a year, often the best way to spend that money is to stay healthy.”
Mangum adds that his service will often be covered by insurance, because he is an MD.