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Alternative Medicine: A Free Market Example of Health Care by Barry Krakov, MD

Alternative Medicine: A Free Market Example of Health Care by Barry Krakov, MD

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Too much debate and discussion on health care reform ignores a singularly important fact about the advent of alternative medicine; namely, it was not fostered by the government, insurance carriers, the pharmaceutical industry, or trial lawyers. Its exponential growth is largely due to the actions of people (both patients and practitioners) living in a land of liberty and opportunity who were looking for new choices to better health. It is without caveat one of the finest examples of the free enterprise system in the United States—a place where the market worked its magic by offering that which is now perceived by much of the public as an affordable, safe, and potentially higher-quality service or product than that provided through conventional fields of medicine.
As I complete my first 30 years in medicine having traversed pathways through internal medicine, addiction medicine, emergency medicine, and finally coming to rest in my home of sleep medicine, I cannot recall the last time I cared for a patient who was not actively using alternative health care services or products. Lists of medications invariably include vitamin and mineral supplements, herbal remedies, or complex natural formula preparations. Patients routinely seek the services of chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and various physicians who practice integrative medicine. My patients with insomnia routinely inquire about alternative medications or modalities, and we instruct them on imagery techniques we have researched and developed as first-line therapeutic modalities.
Too much debate and discussion on health care reform ignores a singularly important fact about the advent of alternative medicine; namely, it was not fostered by the government, insurance carriers, the pharmaceutical industry, or trial lawyers. Its exponential growth is largely due to the actions of people (both patients and practitioners) living in a land of liberty and opportunity who were looking for new choices to better health. It is without caveat one of the finest examples of the free enterprise system in the United States—a place where the market worked its magic by offering that which is now perceived by much of the public as an affordable, safe, and potentially higher-quality service or product than that provided through conventional fields of medicine.
As I complete my first 30 years in medicine having traversed pathways through internal medicine, addiction medicine, emergency medicine, and finally coming to rest in my home of sleep medicine, I cannot recall the last time I cared for a patient who was not actively using alternative health care services or products. Lists of medications invariably include vitamin and mineral supplements, herbal remedies, or complex natural formula preparations. Patients routinely seek the services of chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and various physicians who practice integrative medicine. My patients with insomnia routinely inquire about alternative medications or modalities, and we instruct them on imagery techniques we have researched and developed as first-line therapeutic modalities.

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Guest edItorIal

Alternative Medicine: A Free Market Example of Health Care
Barry Krakow, MD

oo much debate and discusOur health care delivery sion on health care reform system is imploding from govignores a singularly important ernment overregulation, trial fact about the advent of alternative lawyer mischief, an insurance medicine; namely, it was not fostered system laden with moral hazby the government, insurance carriards, and a sizeable percentage ers, the pharmaceutical industry, or of the population ignoring their trial lawyers. Its exponential growth is unique personal influence over largely due to the actions of people their own health. (both patients and practitioners) livCall it a political-legal-indusing in a land of liberty and opportunitrial-populace sickness, and you ty who were looking for new choices to can bet the United States better health. It is without caveat one Congress will not find a cure for of the finest examples of the free enterit, because politicians are not prise system in the United States—a programmed to accurately develplace where the market worked its op a differential diagnosis for any magic by offering that which is now problem, and they possess limitperceived by much of the public as an “Those who are eager to bring alterna- ed, if any, skills in curing probaffordable, safe, and potentially highlems, particularly complex ones. tive medicine into the current model of Based on other dysfunctional er-quality service or product than that provided through conventional fields health insurance and government government-run programs, the of medicine. newly passed, bloated, bloviated, regulation should give pause and ask and bilious health care bill (large As I complete my first 30 years in medicine having traversed paththe salient question: Is this the time to enough to cause head trauma if ways through internal medicine, properly aimed) is more likely to broker a deal with the same people worsen the already deteriorating addiction medicine, emergency medicine, and finally coming to rest in my who have already demonstrated clear environment. home of sleep medicine, I cannot I prefer the power of the intentions and actions to overregulate people (sometimes referred to as recall the last time I cared for a patient who was not actively using alternative and destroy the good practices of “the market”), which could play health care services or products. Lists a pivotal role in continuing the conventional medicine?” of medications invariably include inexorable health revolution in vitamin and mineral supplements, our midst. Never have there been herbal remedies, or complex natural formula preparations. so many patients manifesting a refreshing inquisitiveness about Patients routinely seek the services of chiropractors, acupunctur- their health in ways now termed “participatory medicine.” ists, massage therapists, and various physicians who practice Unlike my introduction to medicine in 1979, where I learned and integrative medicine. My patients with insomnia routinely admittedly embraced many patronizing and condescending inquire about alternative medications or modalities, and we perspectives in caring for patients, the electronic age negated instruct them on imagery techniques we have researched and that paradigm by markedly elevating patient awareness of health developed as first-line therapeutic modalities. information and choices. The salient question in this revolution So, how does the alternative health community organize is how to trigger our patients’ quest to unleash what might be around this great success? According to some commentary I’ve called their “inner libertarian personal health scientist.” been reading, the goal should be to bring alternative health sysWhen the consumer is the only one paying and doctors are tems under the umbrella of health care reform in order to . . . competing with all other doctors for services, prices will drop what? . . . receive insurance reimbursement? This reminds me of faster and further than Obama’s plummeting approval ratings. the man knocking on the door of a noisy nightclub who was Dramatically, it is the alternative health care community that persuaded that all the ruckus inside signaled a super-hot party— has been living out this great American dream because this field of when the real commotion is a raging fire inside with everyone medicine has only been embraced (or is it ensnared?) marginally stampeding for the exits. by the health insurance industry and currently experiences only

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Integrative Medicine • Vol. 9, No. 3 • Jun/Jul 2010

Krakow—Guest Editorial

it can never go without saying that the American experiment is really an aberration. Discover the underlying causes of arthritis and how proper nutrition. Featuring the latest scientific information on the dangers of anti-inflammatory drugs and how to safely and naturally relieve painful symptoms. and conventional medicine clearly needs some fresh ideas when only 50% of Americans use their medications as prescribed. World Health Organization. it has weaknesses and flaws. MD. and promote manufacturers with exacting quality assurance standards. Paradigms that encourage the growth of self-reliance will eventually lead us out of the health care delivery morass. In these ways. herbs.limited government regulation. CELESTIAL ARTS/TEN SPEED PRESS Distributed by Krakow—Guest Editorial Arthritis_HalfVert. the authoritarian march of civilization rarely favors “people power. the current health care shenanigans are about power. but as leaders in the evolving paradigm of integrative medicine. and author of Sound Sleep. is a board-certified internist and sleep medicine specialist. The synthesis long brewing between various forms of conventional medical practice and alternative medicine is inescapable. facilitate freemarket approaches to weed out quacks and quackery. the element most lacking in modern American health systems. dictators. Reference A N INDISPENSIBLE REFERENCE WITH THE LATEST ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES $18. standing. Why kill the goose by attempting to integrate with a health care delivery system in obvious and gross decay? The best goals for alternative medicine are to continue to develop higher-quality services and products. Adherence to Long-term Therapies: Evidence for Action.1 Alternative medicine and conventional medicine will marry one day. the marketplace will secure a very large footprint for alternative health care within the populace. this new edition of Arthritis: An Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide is an essential resource. Is there any doubt that the same degree of overregulation would be forthcoming for alternative medicine? Neither alternative medicine nor conventional medicine is a perfected model. REGAIN AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE! To order this and other great health books. monarchs. not as a fringe element. No. medical director of Maimonides Sleep Arts & Sciences. Those who are eager to bring alternative medicine into the current model of health insurance and government regulation should give pause and ask: Is this the time to broker a deal with the same people who have already demonstrated clear intentions and actions to overregulate and destroy the good practices of conventional medicine? Sadly. Geneva. and the like. Yet. 2007). Switzerland: WHO. visit naturalsolutionsmag. 2003. 9.95 plus shipping and handling ONLY More than 66 million Americans (nearly one in three adults) are afflicted with some type of arthritis. The laundry list of conventional drugs used to help arthiritis merely mask the symptoms and are often accompanied by serious side effects. not health care delivery reform. and there are numerous practitioners who have already figured out how to forge ahead in their communities. 1. 3 • Jun/Jul 2010 12/16/09 15 2:34:14 PM . it accepts the need for patients to take greater interest and responsibility for their own mental and physical health. Sound Mind (Wiley.indd 1 Integrative Medicine • Vol. This evolution is possible in this great country because our founders understood the capacity for human beings to cherish liberty. It can be a debilitating illness limiting everyday movements such as walking.” Alternative medicine is an embodiment of the American spirit.com/go/shop or call 800-841-2665 or visit your local bookseller. or even something as simple as holding a pencil. Barry Krakow. Thousands of years of human history are filled with tyrants. detoxification and other methods can put sufferers back on the move. Alternative medicine was never meant to stand alone. but above all. but alternative medicine by its nature promotes greater individual responsibility.

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