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6/04/2008

Alternative Medicine Is Amazing!

As per my disclaimer above, I do not prescribe treatment options. You need to consult with your health care provider(s) for that. I am excited to share some info regarding alternative medicine because many endo patients are not aware of all of the options available for managing endo symptoms.

For the purposes of this blog, I am going to use the phrase “alternative medicine” to refer to treatment options other than the typical “drugs and surgery” that are offered by Traditional Western Medical doctors for treating endometriosis.

In my personal experience and that of many women I know through my endo support group, many alternative medicine options have come to my attention. We will be talking a great deal about alternative medicine options on this blog. This post is just a jump off point for starting a dialogue on options that are available other than standard hormonal treatments and surgeries.

Since surgery can cause adhesions and scar tissue and since these can cause more pain, the benefits and risks of surgeries should be weighed carefully by talking with your doctor. Many women have numerous laparoscopies to remove endo. Also, medications can have side effects.

If alternative therapies and Traditional Western Medicine can be used together as integrative medicine, patients can get the best of both worlds: endo patients can choose the options that are best for them based on their age, fertility desires, number and severity of symptoms (including pain), etc.

Here are just a few alternative medicine options I am aware of through either personal experience or what my support group members have shared with me:

Acupuncture – I have been getting regular acupuncture for over 7 years now. I love it! For many years, I had heard women rave about acupuncture and I was afraid to do it. I thought it would hurt. I was in enough pain already and didn’t want to add to it by getting stuck with needles! However, I now wish I have tried it sooner!!!! My acupuncturist is awesome. He uses Japanese style needles. They are so thin and flexible… nothing like hypodermic needles! He describes them as “about the width of a cat’s whisker”. They are so skinny it’s unbelievable. They do NOT hurt! The cool thing about acupuncture for me is that it helps me in a holistic way…. It helps my whole body. He doesn’t just treat my endo symptoms. He treats all symptoms that acupuncture can appropriately address. It helps me enormously! My acupuncturist is a licensed acupuncturist. Here are a couple of websites you may find helpful:

http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/
http://www.acupuncturefinder.com/

Chi Nei Tsang – A couple of my fellow endo support group members have tried this modality and found it to be very helpful! I’m including a website with info about Chi Nei Tsang: http://www.chineitsang.com/. According to this website, “Chi Nei Tsang is a holistic approach to the healing touch modality of old Taoist Chinese origin. It integrates the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of our being.” If you haven’t tried this modality, it’s something you may want to investigate!

Diet and Nutrition – Many endo patients find that dietary changes help them feel better. Some endo patients feel better when they follow a wheat free and/or dairy free diet. There are books about endo and nutrition out there. One I’ve heard good things about (but haven’t read) is Endometriosis: A Key to Healing Through Nutrition by Dian Shepperson Mills and Michael Vernon.



Some endo patients have found diets for treating candidiasis helpful. See the book The Yeast Connection: A Medical Breakthrough by Dr. William Crook for more information.



Homeopathy – This has helped me so much! I am very blessed to have a friend who is very knowledgeable about homeopathy and who has helped me determine which homeopathic remedies are appropriate for my needs. If you are interested in checking out homeopathy, I would suggest finding a licensed naturopathic doctor to assist you in selecting the homeopathic remedies that are right for you. Going to the store and buying homeopathics and simply going by what’s on the label isn’t a great option because homeopathy is complicated and those labels simply aren’t enough to guide you if you are not trained in homeopathy. Homeopathic remedies are easy to take (the pellets dissolve under you tongue), they can be fast acting (depending on what symptoms you are taking it for), and they really work!!!

Massage Therapy – Many people think of massage therapy as simply a luxury or form of pampering. However, massage therapy certainly has medical benefits! If massage therapy interests you, try finding a licensed massage therapist by word of mouth. Some massage therapists are take-your-breath-away relaxing and others are just so-so. Some have special training in massage therapy that is more geared to medical benefits rather than just relaxation. Ask around and you may find that someone you know has a massage therapist they swear by!

Physical Therapy for Pelvic Pain – I never knew there was such a thing as this until a support group member told me about it. Then I tried it myself and saw what she was talking about. Then we told other support group members and several of them tried it too. I haven’t heard any negative feedback from the women who have tried this therapy. If you are experiencing pelvic pain, you may want to see if there is a physical therapist in your area that does this particular, specialized form of physical therapy. For information about this therapy, I would try searching on these two websites: http://www.pelvicpain.org/index.asp or http://www.nva.org/. This therapy is typically covered under insurance and often requires a doctor’s referral. The only reason I’m calling it “alternative” is that most endo patients aren’t aware this therapy exists and most doctors don’t mention it to their patients. Some geographical areas don’t have these specially trained practitioners. However, there could be one in your backyard and you won’t know it if you don’t check. This is a modality that can really help women with pelvic pain. Ask your doctor if it’s an option available near you and don’t be afraid to research on your own to see if it’s available in your area. It may be available and your doctor doesn’t know it yet! This is a relatively new field within physical therapy from what I understand.

HAVE A GREAT DAY!

This article was posted by Jeanne via "Jeanne's Endo Blog" at www.endendoat.blogspot.com.

4 comments:

Tracee said...

I'm always sruprised that people would rather have pain than try something new like see a chiropractor or try yoga or even use an essential oil.

Jeanne said...

Tracee,

I know what you mean. I think sometimes it's a fear of the unknown and that sometimes people are afraid to try something new. Since it's my experience that it's fairly unusual for MDs to encourage things like chiropractic care or aromatherapy, I suspect that some people simply take the prescriptions their doctors give them and go on their way. If the prescription doesn't relieve their pain or causes side effects, doctors typically try another drug. Unless patients bring it up, alternative medicine options are rarely discussed between MDs and patients. If patients bring up alternative medicine questions, many doctors either discourage it or talk about the fact that there isn't scientific evidence to support that xyz works. Very few MDs are trained in alternative medicine options. They tend to treat patients based on how they were trained: drugs and surgery for just about everything. Unfortunately, many doctors are not open to alternative medicine and Traditional Western Medicine being used together as integrative medicine. Sadly, the negative view many doctors have of alternative medicine options seems to lead some patients to fear these options. I have heard of some doctors (not many) suggesting yoga. However, it seems MDs generally focus on drugs and surgery to the exclusion of all other options. Also, many patients have been brought up to view doctors as authority figures. Some patients are timid with their docs and don't feel comfortable advocating for themselves. I'm certainly not suggesting people should disregard Western Medicine. However, being open to alternative medicine makes sense also. Traditional Chinese Medicine has been practiced for thousands of years. There are other options besides the drugs and surgery so prevalent in Traditional Western Medicine. People just have to be open to it.

Jeanne

Yaya said...

I LOVE acupuncture! I am addicted! I go once a week. If I take time off from it, my pain comes back, so it's easier to maintain regular visits then to deal with debilitating pain. I have to (once again) thank Jeanne for recommending Acupuncture, or I would have never had the courage to get over the 'needle phobia' and try it realize I love it! I also do massage therapy once in awhile, but I find the acupuncture works better for me, personally.

Jeanne said...

Alicia,

I am so glad you LOVE acupuncture! I know what you mean about getting hooked on acupuncture. I too have seen what happens if I stagger my acupuncture appointments too far apart. It's not worth it because I end up taking steps backward instead of forward. I go as often as I can afford to. It helps so much! It's incredible. Alicia, you don't have to thank me. I'm just really glad you tried it and LOVE it. I have yet to meet anyone who tried acupuncture and decided they didn't like it. I know lots of people who go to acupuncture. I used to go for massage therapy. In fact, my massage therapist was the one who referred me to my acupuncturist! (I know you see a different acupuncturist than I do). Anyway, once I got into acupuncture... I couldn't afford both. So I picked acupuncture over massage therapy. It was hard to do but I had no choice. I certainly miss massage therapy and it did me lots of good. My massage therapist was absolutely amazing too!! The thing is that for my illnesses I felt more long-term benefit from the acupuncture than the massage therapy. So I had to make a hard choice and discontinue my massage therapy. I'm very grateful to my massage therapist for referring me to my acupuncturist, though! I feel badly I couldn't keep going to her too. Everyone is different. I have had more noticeable results with acupuncture too, though. I know some people might have the reverse experience.

Jeanne

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