Those looking for new and different approaches to medicine are finding many avenues to restored health.
Whether it is a cure for an ongoing condition or someone with good health simply wanting to maintain it, holistic health answers are everywhere.
Better diet and exercise, chiropractic care, targeted medications from a compounding pharmacy, all can be just what the doctor ordered, according to local experts.
Dr. David Fields of Tulsa Chiropractic Rehab is not what he refers to as the “rack-em and crack-em” type of chiropractor. He performs what he calls physical medicine — his focus is to get to the root of the problem.
Adjustments aren’t the answer to all physical issues, he said, because “I don’t believe subluxation (a dislocation) is the heart of all disease.”
This doctor emphasizes several areas with his patients.
First, he provides nutritional counseling. Western civilization and all its fast foods and chemicals brings on common diseases of the diet, from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and inflamed joints to even making people more susceptible to cancer, he said.
He suggests that his patients avoid inflammation by washing vegetables and fruits thoroughly, eating more fish and limiting bad fats. He encourages them to go back to basics.
Secondly, he provides lifestyle advice. He helps his patients do detective work on their daily activities — from how they sit in front of a computer to bad ergonomics in their movements. Those could be the culprits behind symptoms such as headaches, neck pain and shoulder pain.
Once Fields has targeted the problem, he provides corrective exercises to bring the body back into balance.
Some of the latest trends in his field are decompression to unload pressure on the discs and stretching the muscles around them to unburden the spinal joints. Neuropathy relief gets pressure off nerves. And percussive therapy uses a device that puts a compressive wave into the muscles to increase mobility.
Fields tells his patients to follow their doctors’ advice and keep taking prescribed medications, but many of the issues he commonly sees can be curtailed or eliminated by improving their daily choices.
Fields said he believes in approaching health care conservatively. Patients can’t undo surgery, and they can’t undo the side effects of long-term use of medications. He suggests patients try exercise, meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, changing their diet, getting their spines aligned and seeking more natural approaches.
“Alternative medical approaches shouldn’t be alternative at all; it should be the first approach,” Fields said. “Go from the most conservative approach to the most aggressive approach. It will save millions in health care, and it will be better for the patient.”
An alternative view
One Tulsa physician is open to thinking differently when treating her patients.
Dr. Carol. J. Howard practices at In His Image Family Medicine Residency through St. John Health System.
Howard’s medical training taught her to evaluate a patient’s body, mind and spirit. She looks at symptoms and then at the whole person. She does prescribe traditional medicine, but if a patient asks for a holistic treatment or if she thinks an alternative approach is a better fit for the patient, then that may be the path she will take.
“Sometimes, not everything can be measured on a lab test,” Howard said. “I look at the whole person.”
Based on a study that found that staying grateful helps patients recover after surgery, Howard tells some of her patients dealing with stress or depression to keep a thankfulness journal. Those who count their blessings will recover from surgery faster, will be discharged from the hospital sooner and will have better post-surgery outcomes, the study suggests, so she assigns some patients to write a list of five things for which they are thankful that day.
Other patients may get a prescription for a date night with their spouse or an order to take a break.
After reading about statin drugs, some patients ask for alternative approaches to controlling cholesterol. Howard may prescribe red yeast rice, Omega-3 fish oils or compounded medicines.
She uses alternative approaches as substitutions only after evidence-based studies show success.
Chiropractic adjustment is very powerful, but it can be enhanced with naturopathy.
Some doctors reason that the body is designed to heal itself. Dr. Dustin Reif points out that when a child falls down and scrapes his or her knee, the child’s first instinct is to grab it with his or her hands. The idea behind Reif’s Tulsa Healing clinic is that with the use of trained hands, the body can be put back into proper function again.
Reif has enhanced his chiropractic training with a certificate in clinical neurology. With this insight, his facility provides chiropractic care, lifestyle coaching, Reiki and naturopathy for a different approach to health.
Modern-day stress at work, in traffic and from daily aggravations can seem never-ending. A person’s stress response is turned on, and the person has an inability to turn it off. When that happens, the gut gets out of whack. The patient stays in a state of survival instead of a state of healing, he said.
When patients have chronic issues and symptoms, doctors explore why the body isn’t healing itself. Tulsa Healing puts the chiropractor, the Reiki practitioner and the naturopath together to ensure that repair is taking place.
Adjustments tailored specifically for individual patients reduce their response to stress. Patients will sleep better and digest food better, and their bodies will have what they need to thrive, he said.
Reif measures the function of the nervous system, how well the brain is communicating with the body. Over time and treatment, the doctor will take new measurements to document how much progress is being made.
But only 10% of the healing may show up in how the patient feels. Sometimes, the pain goes away, but the healing isn’t done.
Reif mentioned an old proverb that states, “The healthy man has a thousand dreams; the unhealthy man but one.”
“So we want to get you back to health so you can get back to life, whatever form that takes — a golf game, playing with the grandchildren, time with family, hobbies or work — where health is not something that you have to worry about,” Reif said.