HEALTH PORTFOLIO (H-Portfolio)
H-Asset: Integrative Wealth (What is CAM?)
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices have been used for thousands of years to promote physical and mental well-being. CAM is a general term that represents a group of medical and health care products, services, interventions, or practitioners that are not generally considered part of conventional or mainstream Western medicine and lay outside its boundaries. However, these boundaries are changing as CAM methods are becoming more mainstream. The National Institute of Health (NIH) established the National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 1999. Eventually, the NIH replaced “alternative” with “integrative.” According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2012, $30.2 billion was spent on CAM services. Recently, an estimated 59 million individuals used CAM. Of those, 30 percent were adults and 12 percent were children from the ages of 4 and older.
Complementary health approaches are generally either natural products or mind-body practices. The most popular types of CAM include homeopathy/herbs as well as deep breathing, yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, acupuncture, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, meditation, massage, special diets, progressive relaxation/meditation, and guided imagery, among others (NIH, 2016).
Making sound H-investments early on could improve your optimal H=W formula (health=wealth). For instance, your child’s H-portfolio for CAM might include, yoga, acupuncture or probiotics. Your H-portfolio could include meditation, Qi Gong, or herbal supplements. If you are an athlete, your H-portfolio might include acupuncture, massage, and deep breathing exercises. If you are elderly, your H-portfolio might include Tai Chi, yoga, and fish oil (natural product).
The bottom line…“pay-your health-forward” by adding CAM to you and your family’s H-portfolio. It is never too early to invest in your health.
Review of the H-Investments
My H-investment: I continue to give a shout-out to all of my incredible returns on this MUST-HAVE H-investment and this time I will tell you why. My Health Management Series (HMS) is about sharing my journey to wellness and how each fork in the road taught me something valuable. Intestinal Wealth happens to be my most cherished H-asset, which is why I started off with it in my HMS. I have thought about this H-asset more than any other because lack of it literally drained not only my bank account, but my enthusiasm for life. In the early 2000s, I was at a life-changing fork in the road. I had to decide my path; surgery or no surgery. I had been on 20 different medications at one point, and visited more than 30 specialists. I was considered by many doctors to be “a very interesting case.” I understood all too well what that phrase meant. At that point of my life, I was a clinic administrator and understood the “interesting” concepts in healthcare. I helped a lot of people over the years, and took a lot of “notes” and tried to find out why some people “failed” and others “succeeded” in regaining their health. But as much as I tried, I could not find my own H-solution to this newest problem. In the end, I decided to not have surgery and instead I took a leap of faith and enrolled into an acupuncture program. My goal going into the program was to avoid surgery at all costs and to try to “take my own health back.” I didn’t even know how acupuncture worked, and, quite frankly, I didn’t care, because I didn’t know how the medications worked either. I went to school for acupuncture not to “become” an acupuncturist, but to try to heal myself from a health condition that was depleting my life. Even though the road circled around and around for awhile, I eventually found my way back to health. It took several years’ time and I knew it would. Acupuncture had no medication side effects, unlike the high dosages of steroids I was taking. It helped to relieve the stress and anxiety of my illness. Acupuncture helped me address multiple symptoms in one treatment session and was very effective in treating many of my H-problems including digestive problems, sleep problems, and severe joint pain, among many others. Eventually, I was able to get off all of my medication and resolve most of my H-problems. And, of course, I took a bigger leap of faith, followed my heart, and left my career to open up Gentle Touch Acupuncture. I don’t claim to know what is best for you, or even what is best for me at all times, because the journey to health is always changing. I am glad I had a choice in medicine, and that is why acupuncture is one of my favorite Must Have H-investments.
History of this H-investment: Acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years, and there is a reason for that. It works! Acupuncture increases overall energy and vitality, and helps the body achieve balance. Regular, monthly acupuncture treatments can help maintain good health and a sense of wellbeing. Research confirms that acupuncture stimulates immune functioning and promotes anti-inflammatory effects, which can increase resistance to bacterial and viral infections. Acupuncture has been used in pediatrics for issues such as asthma, anxiety, headaches, colic, abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and back pain. Liu and Chien (2015), completed a systematic review of the efficacy of acupuncture in children with asthma. Several studies they reviewed found improvement in lung function as well as anxiety levels in those children with asthma receiving acupuncture. Landgren and Hallstrom (2017), found acupuncture was statistically more effective in the treatment of infantile colic than standard care.
My H-investment: Building an H-portfolio that includes the mind-body connection seems quite reasonable, and—after all—it’s free, and it works. Meditation can be done anywhere, and the joys of the “unsaid,” can calm and center the body for the day. Meditation plays an important role in reducing anxiety, stress, and pain as well as lowering your H-investment risk, and even put more real money in your pocket by reducing the number of your sick days and doctor visits (Hoge et al., 2017). When I first started to meditate many years ago, it actually stressed me out. I couldn’t clear my mind even for a minute. I decided to focus on something that I knew very well, and that was breathing. I focused on each breath and slowly added another and then another, until I finally worked myself up to 20 minutes a day. I cannot express the importance of trying. Even a few focused breaths might be just enough to calm and center the body for the day. What do you have to lose?
History of this H-investment: The mind-body connection reflects ways that our thoughts, emotions and behavior can influence our interactions with each other. The Greeks believed that our minds and bodies are not separate and that the body should never be neglected in order to pursue higher education. Plato’s writings emphasized the importance of bodily movement for developing the mind. This approach differed from the Eastern meditation approach in which the focus begins on the mind which then influences the body. Florence Nightingale wrote about the effects of the body on the mind in her memoirs in the 1800s. In the early 1900s, Richard Clarke Cabot published a paper in which he reflected on how mentality and social status were intermingled with sickness. In the 1930s, Joseph Pilates emphasized that wellness represents the balance between body and mind. In the 1930s-1940s, the fight-or-flight concept and placebo effect were coined. Both referred to effects of the body on the mind and the mind on the body. In the 1950s more focus was placed on what was called “high-level wellness,” with the philosophy that a balance between mind, body, and spirit results in an overall feeling of wellbeing. In the 1970s, Herbert Benson referred to the “relaxation response” which essentially was referring to meditation as he emphasized deep breathing, a comfortable position, and a mantra in order to promote deep relaxation. Later in the 70s, George Engel proposed the biopsychosocial model of health, wellness, and illness. The early 2000s brought wellness to the forefront and there was a trend towards vitamin sales and health club memberships (Gohde, n.d.). This H-investment history is well established and the rising trend towards CAM can certainly help grow your H-portfolio over time.
My H-investment: CAM and Western medicine for example, can compliment each other and can be integrated to offer optimal health care. For example, since I practice acupuncture and physical therapy, I provide both CAM and Western (conventional) medicine. In my personal experience, I discovered that conventional medicine does not work for everyone, which is why I pursued CAM interventions to treat my own illness, however, I have always kept my doctors informed of my choices to pursue other treatments, or no treatment in some cases. It wasn’t always easy, and some doctors were more open than others, just like some CAM practitioners are more open to integrative care than others. But just remember, H-partnerships are the foundation of building a good H-portfolio.
Golianu, Yeh, and Brooks (2014) reported an estimated 30.8% of American children have chronic pain, such as migraines, tension headaches, abdominal pain with irritable bowel syndrome, intermittent abdominal pain, and that using an multidisciplinary approach, including acupuncture, has been found to be useful in reducing chronic pain conditions. Of the children that received acupuncture for various pains, 53 percent were apprehensive prior to the treatment. However, after treatment, 64 percent felt that the needles did not hurt at all. Of adolescents, 67 percent receiving acupuncture reported the sensation to be “pleasant,” and 70 percent had decreased pain levels.
History of this H-investment: Integrative medicine involves bringing conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated manner (NIH, 2016). For example, complementary therapies and physical therapy might be used in collaboration for pain management if an individual can’t tolerate taking NSAIDs. Gilbey, et al. completed a randomized, controlled study using acupuncture, for pain management in children following tonsillectomy. Children receiving acupuncture had significantly less pain than those not receiving acupuncture. In addition, those receiving acupuncture had less need for analgesic drugs (2015). Exercise and dietary supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate might be considered for those who suffer from osteoarthritic knee pain and may be suggested by an orthopedist even before an individual considers a knee replacement.
*Some supplements, like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate could cause some GI upset (Ciccone, 2007). Therefore, consult with your physician before initiating supplements, especially if you are on medications. Adhering to the proper dosage on the bottle is always important. All supplements should be included in your medication list when giving your health history.
My H-investment: I have plenty of CAM treatments and products in my own H-portfolio. They include acupuncture, yoga, meditation, Qi Gong, massage, deep breathing exercises, and (natural products) probiotics, herbal supplements, and fish oil, to name a few. I take several supplements each day in order to maintain or improve my health. I also have an “emergency kit” that stores several different types of supplements depending on my body’s need. For example, if I feel like I am catching a cold, I take goldenseal. I have also learned that setting realistic H-expectations saves me time and money, because setting unrealistic expectations leads to disappointment. I try very hard not to tell myself that my symptoms are going to get worse. I just try to give my body time to recover without getting upset with the situation. When I am actively involved in the healing process, it becomes easier for me to understand why rebalancing is very important for your short-term and long-term H-investment. Preventing future illness or further deterioration is an important component of assuring lower cost of care. Just like investing your money into the stock market, you must give your H-investment time to bear fruit.
History of this H-investment: According to the National Commission on Prevention Priorities, preventive services not only save lives, but also save money. Such measures could save nearly two million lives and nearly $4 billion dollars a year (Currie, 2010). Prevention is an essential component to self-care and good health, and your H-retirement depends on this very important and powerful word. Preventive measures focus on lifestyle, behavioral, and other components of health and wellness. These measures can be practiced by the individual, the physician treating the individual, or even by the community as a whole. Preventive measures may include particular activities that enhance balance and awareness in order to prevent falls, like Tai Chi, or specific exercises like yoga that can enhance bone density to prevent osteoporosis. Acupuncture has been found to be effective in treating various diseases, and preconditioning with acupuncture can be an important mechanism in preventing diseases in light of the benefits to the immune system (Liang et al., 2015). Meditation plays an important role in reducing anxiety and stress. Vitamins, herbals, and other supplements have been used to prevent illness and this could lead to huge returns on your H-portfolio.
Acupuncture, meditation, with mindfulness, and prevention have been mentioned in my previous Health Management Series. Imagine all the H-possibilities by using the same H-investments… they are endless!
By considering your H-asset, CAM, as a contributor in your overall H-portfolio, as carefully as you would consider your own financial “nest egg”, you will improve your overall emotional, spiritual, and physical health and never have the need to re-invest. This will lead you to significant returns and dividends on your “H-investment”!
The Health Management Series by Dr. Lisa Williams embraces the theory that your health is your wealth, and sound health investments (H-Investments) are the key to a healthy lifestyle. With my relentless pursuit to restore the natural healing process, I will review specific health assets (H-Assets) and recommend H-Investments for building health dividends (H-Dividends) that will pay off in years to come. Yes, it is all about the H’s in this Health Portfolio.
About the author
Dr. Lisa Williams, founder of Gentle Touch Acupuncture and Gentle Touch Physical Therapy in New York City, is a doctor of physical therapy as well as a licensed acupuncturist. Lisa has been practicing for more than 23 years and has developed significant expertise in all areas of rehabilitation including pediatrics, geriatrics, general orthopedics, sports injuries, and wellness. Lisa’s own personal journey to healing, and discovering the mind-body connection, began more than 28 years ago, when a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis changed the direction of her life. Her quest has led her to create a multi-pronged approach to health and wellness. This approach combines acupuncture, exercise, nutritional alteration and supplementation, to successfully manage a plethora of conditions. Lisa’s Health Management Series was developed to inspire people to achieve their health and wellness goals, by sharing what she has learned from her own journey. Using her approach will empower you to find your own solutions for a healthy lifestyle.
For more information: Gentle Touch Acupuncture and Gentle Touch Physical Therapy. As you make the most of your H-portfolio in 2017, please create and share your own MUST HAVE H-investment with me at #Healthmanagmentseries or Health Management Series by Dr. Lisa Williams.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2012). Expenditures on complementary health approaches. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov
Ciccone, C. (2007). Pharmacology in rehabilitation (Fourth ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company.
Currie, D. (2010). Prevention saves lives as well as money, new research confirms. Retrieved from http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/54940143/prevention-saves-lives-as-well-as-money-new-research-confirms
Gilbey, P., Bretler, S., Avraham, Y., Sharabi-Nov, A., Ibrgimov, S., & Luder, A. (2015). Acupuncture for posttonsillectomy pain in children: a randomized, controlled study. Paediatr Anaesth, 25(6), 603-609. doi:10.1111/pan.12621
Gohde, J. (n.d.). Mind-body connection. Retrieved from http://naturalhealthperspective.com/resilience/mind-body-connection.html
Golianu, B., Yeh, A. M., & Brooks, M. (2014). Acupuncture for Pediatric Pain. Children (Basel), 1(2), 134-148. doi:10.3390/children1020134
Hoge, E. A., Guidos, B. M., Mete, M., Bui, E., Pollack, M. H., Simon, N. M., & Dutton, M. A. (2017). Effects of mindfulness meditation on occupational functioning and health care utilization in individuals with anxiety. J Psychosom Res, 95, 7-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2017.01.011
Landgren, K., & Hallstrom, I. (2017). Effect of minimal acupuncture for infantile colic: a multicentre, three-armed, single-blind, randomised controlled trial (ACU-COL). Acupunct Med. doi:10.1136/acupmed-2016-011208
Liang, F., Cooper, E. L., Wang, H., Jing, X., Quispe-Cabanillas, J. G., & Kondo, T. (2015). Acupuncture and Immunity. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2015, 260620. doi:10.1155/2015/260620
Liu, C. F., & Chien, L. W. (2015). Efficacy of acupuncture in children with asthma: a systematic review. Ital J Pediatr, 41, 48. doi:10.1186/s13052-015-0155-1
National Institutes of Health (NIH). (2016). Complementary, alternative, or integrative health: what’s in a name?. Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/integrative-health
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