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Complementary methods among fastest growing today
By Delores Patterson / The Detroit News

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.

Ricardo Thomas / The Detroit News
Dr. 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 spirit.

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 nature."
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 mood.
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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"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