MORE DOCTORS MIX TRADITIONAL MEDICINE WITH
Complementary methods among fastest growing today
By Delores Patterson / The Detroit
DEARBORN -- Elizabeth Pierce was destined
to take antibiotics for the rest of her life to treat a hair
follicle problem she acquired as a result of radiation and
chemotherapy for breast cancer.
Conventional doctors suggested that the 61-year-old Wyandotte
resident also have her gallbladder removed to relieve the
pain she was experiencing. Worried about side effects, she
instead turned to alternative medicine.
Pierce's problems ceased when a physician at Oakwood Healthcare
Center-North in Westland prescribed homeopathic remedies that
included herbal treatments based on anthroposophical medicine
-- an internal medicine practice that focuses on the mind,
spirit as well as the body.
"I love and respect my regular doctors,
but they are not tuned into anything except the normal everyday
treatment. I think more doctors should explore alternative
and complementary medicines. It really does work, and the
focus is on treating the whole person. I'd recommend it to
anyone," said Pierce, who has used alternative medicines
for more than a year.
More local physicians are blending non-traditional healing
methods with traditional medicine.
Two Dearborn doctors recently opened West Village -- a medical
spa that uses therapeutic treatments as a part of obstetrics
and gynecology services. And two Ann Arbor physicians are
working on plans to build the first anthroposophical clinic
in North America.
Thomas / The Detroit News
Leo Greenstone, right, of Oakwood's Complementary and Alternative
Medicine Center, chats with patient Thomas King of Westland.
Greenstone believes alternative medicine goes a step further
than traditional medicine by helping to heal mind, body and
The proposed $5-million clinic will be run
by Drs. Molly McMullen-Laird and her husband, Quentin McMullen.The
couple have operated an outpatient anthroposophical practice
for four years. The new clinic will offer in-patient care.
Anthroposophical medicine combines traditional medicine with
a range of alternative treatments, including homeopathic remedies,
nutrition, artistic and massage therapies. It was founded
in the early 20th century by Rudolf Steiner.
"Conventional medicine looks at people as merely biochemical
machines that happen to have consciousness," said Dr.
Leo Greenstone of Oakwood's Complementary and Alternative
Medicine Center in Westland. "This model believes people
are more. Everyone has a body, mind, spirit that work with
the physiological and all these things have a connection to
For example, a cancer patient may receive normal surgery,
radiation and chemotherapy, but their fear, anxiety, or feelings
of non-control also need to be addressed. Anthroposophical
medicine focuses the emotions in a positive and constructive
way, Greenstone said. Treatments could include artistic therapy
such as painting, drawing or visual arts to allow patients
to express themselves.
"It helps ease some of the concerns and allows people
to carry on," Greenstone said.
Some patients also are treated with a mistletoe preparation
called Iscar, a liquid injection. Some studies have shown
that Iscar helps to boost the immune system, inhibit cancer
cell growth and replication and generally enhances the patient's
According to the Health Education Alliance for Life and Longevity,
complementary and alternative approaches to health and medicine
are among the fastest-growing in health care. Approximately
one-third of the U.S population used alternative care in 1990.
And the organization predicts that by the year 2010, the number
will increase to at least two-thirds.
Oakwood's three-year-old center sees about 2,500 patients
annually, according to practitioners.
"People are interested in trying to be and stay healthy.
And alternative medicines allow people to take a more active
role in their health and not be passive in a way that honors
whatever their beliefs might be," said Greenstone, who
has practiced internal medicine for 12 years and alternative
medicine since 1995.
"I'm not saying that you'll be cured but it helps. ...
It's holistic rather than merely putting a bandage on things."
Patricia Gray, owner of Patricia's Wellness Room in Belleville,
also believes alternative methods are more cost effective
with the rising costs of health insurance.
Non-traditional medicines are typically out-of-pocket expenses
that range from $55 an hour for acupuncture to $30 for a massage.
"It takes a little bit of reading and understanding,
but (alternative medicine) allows you to get at the root of
the problem and clears up symptoms that some traditional drugs
just seem to suppress," said Gray, who has been using
herbal remedies since the 1970s.
Currently, many doctors receive their training overseas in
Switzerland and Germany, which have hospitals that specialize
in alternative medicines. Only a few places in the United
States, mostly on the East Coast and in the Midwest, provide
training, said Diana Clark, an administrator with the Physicians
Association for Anthroposophical Medicine in Ann Arbor.
"The future of treating the entire human being is unlimited,"
said Dr. Bruce Rochefort of Dearborn's West Village Ob/Gyn.
"If a person comes in with discomfort during their pregnancy,
we want to be able to help them in whatever ways they feel
most comfortable and sometimes that goes beyond medicine."
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by the Anthroposophical Society in America
"Seek the truly practical life,
but seek it in such a way that it does not blind you to the spirit
working in it. Seek the spirit, but seek it not out of spiritual
greed, but so that you may apply it in the genuinely practical life."
-- Rudolf Steiner