by Christine Farrell
I have worked in what would be considered the “alternative medicine” field for many years, and I have seen it change dramatically in that time. The public has become more interested in the options that alternative medicine offers, and Western medicine has come to accept some of the practices as complementary to the mutual treatment of patients. This should be a great thing for all involved, but unfortunately there are those that have chosen to take advantage of people who are looking for answers and help.
Alternative/complementary medicine encompasses a large number of practices such as chiropractics, acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, etc. Typically, these specialties require extensive training, certification and licensure. Because we are a society that wants the “quick fix,” we often fall victim to the non-certified person offering the miracle cure for all that ails us. This is a person who is looking to make a fast dollar at the expense of the patient’s safety, and it is becoming far too prevalent.
In my practice I have seen many people who are struggling with weight, depression, fatigue, etc, who end up spending hundreds or even thousands on sometimes dangerous and typically ineffective treatments. These treatments are sold with the promise of fixing that which nothing else could fix. Sometimes there is a basis to these claims, but more often there is no research and no basis whatsoever to make these claims. Sometimes there is a mild placebo effect and they feel better, but too often there is no improvement or dangerous consequences.
I personally have had many patients given dangerously high thyroid dosages from other practitioners. This can cause heart issues and bone loss. One patient I know was hospitalized for a mini stroke because of improper thyroid treatment. These patients are given medications by people not properly trained to do so and sometimes not legally able to prescribe. There are also many patients that I have seen given all types of dangerous concoctions to ingest which have caused more problems than the patient originally had. These treatments can cause long-term problems and cost large sums of money. As I always say, “if there were truly a quick fix, we would all have heard about it and be doing it”.
There are many wonderful alternative/complementary practices that can have excellent results and are very safe (including bio-identical hormones!). Please be sure that you take the time to research who is performing the treatment and what they are doing to you or giving you to take. Listen to your common sense and your better sense of judgement; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Christine Farrell MSN, FNP-C is a specialist in the area of hormonal imbalances in men and women and has been in practice in the area for over 17 years. She is an Associate Clinical Professor at University of California, Los Angeles and is also an alumnus of the University. Farrell belongs to the North American Menopause Society, The International Menopause Society, and the International Hormone Society. Her practice, Bio-Identical Wellness in Westlake Village, incorporates the use of bio-identical hormones, nutrition, supplements and lifestyle changes to promote wellness of both the physical and emotional aspects of health.