When Conventional and “Alternative” Medicine Complement Each Other

Photo: Our grateful thanks to the National Cancer Institute. A technician uses a microtome at the Advanced Technology Research Facility (ATRF), Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute. A microtome is an instrument that cuts extremely thin sections of material for examination under a microscope.

by Connie Hernandez, ND

Here at Pacific Naturopathic we’re very aware that many of our patients are distrustful of conventional modes of medical management – what with the mainstream emphasis on pharmaceutical symptom-control and the lack of a whole-person perspective on health and healing.  

However, conventional and “alternative” (or “complementary”) medicine can often complement each other, particularly in the area of diagnostics.  

As naturopaths, we consider it important to take advantage of modern diagnostic technologies, including specialized lab panels, as needed. We often see patients who haven’t been diagnosed correctly and who’ve been treated (or who’ve self-treated) for conditions they don’t actually have, thus allowing the undiagnosed condition to progress.

Dr. Connie Hernandez, ND

“Patient A” had a history of seasonal allergies and was accustomed to treating them with antihistamines and natural remedies. When the allergies failed to respond and persisted for many months despite increased dosing, it was found that the problem wasn’t allergies, but nasal polyps, which responded to a protocol appropriate to the condition.

“Patient B” came to our office with severe lower abdominal pain that met all of the criteria for acute appendicitis. The patient explained that the pain had recurred numerous times, and that he’d been evaluated and told that it didn’t require urgent treatment. The patient resisted strongly when I insisted that she go immediately to the ER for diagnosis – which, thank heaven, she did, arriving just in time to remove a bursting appendix.

“Patient C” had a history of gastritis and gastroesophageal surgery and had embarked on a course of healing that involved a much improved diet and daily exercise; however, he soon began to experience the gastric issues again. After weeks of suffering, he was seen by his primary care physician who saw no need to refer him back to the gastroenterologist or request imaging. Patient C subsequently awoke in the middle of the night vomiting blood and was rushed to the ER where diagnostic imaging revealed a large lung tumor and separate tumor in the neighborhood of his heart. Subsequent diagnostics enabled initiation of appropriate care.

I can name myself as “Patient D.” Several years ago, I experienced sharp pain in the middle of my foot which I assumed to be a case of plantar fasciitis. After nearly a year of unsuccessful treatment by reflexologists and other bodyworkers, I finally made an appointment with a podiatrist, who held my foot briefly and told me that he knew exactly what the problem was. An ultrasound revealed that I had ruptured my plantar fascia in four places, and the podiatrist told me that immediate casting would have resolved the issue.

Fortunately, my story ended well – though it would, of course, have been much better if I had been properly diagnosed and casted a year sooner.

I could give many examples, but the message is clear – you cannot be properly treated unless you know what you should be treated for. At the very least, I believe it’s wise to take every possible step to rule out the most serious diagnoses before resorting to treatments that may, in fact, only “correct” the problem by managing the symptoms.

For information about the services we offer at Pacific Naturopathic, please give us a call at 650-961-1660, use the convenient Contact Form to get in touch, or follow the link to: Consultations – Pacific Naturopathic. Thank you!