The Center for Family Medicine in Minot received a grant from the Weil foundation this year for educational activities in Integrative Medicine, the practice of blending conventional medical therapies with alternative therapies. As a part the grant, Dr. Paul Abramson visited Minot to speak to healthcare providers about Integrated Medicine.
"Whether or not their doctors know about it, many people are already using some alternative therapies," Abramson said. "Studies have shown that somewhere between 40 to 70 percent of people have used alternative medicine of some kind, but about 73 percent of them don't tell their doctors."
"Integrated medicine really tries to provide a setting where doctors who have been trained can talk about conventional and alternative therapies with patients," he added.
Katina Tengesdal/MDN - - Dr. Paul Abramson, primary care physician and integrated medicine practitioner, spoke to healthcare providers in a talk hosted by Minot’s Center for Family Medicine.
When patients are free to communicate their use of alternative medicine, physicians can be alert to any potential side effects, and they can also help the patient decide which approach would be beneficial to them.
"Integrated medicine is best at helping patients decide what's most appropriate for them," he added. "Sometimes, it's surgery and pharmaceuticals, sometimes it might be acupressure and dietary supplements. Most frequently, it's a combination of some conventional therapies and some alternative medicine."
Abramson explained that there are many forms of alternative medicine, including entire systems such as Chinese acupuncture, Aruvada medicine from India, or body-based manipulations such as chiropractic. Other systems include herbs, vitamins and dietary supplements.
"There are so many different kinds of practices, the list is large, and continously changes. It's very confusing for patients and for doctors to help them decide what's helpful," Abramson said.
Integrated medicine aims for an understanding of which types of care would best fit the particular patient.
"Conventional medicine is very good at acute, life-threatening medical conditions. But if you have a chronic illness like rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes, often, there's some combination of conventional medicine with nutrition, exercise and some alternative therapies that will give you a better result," Abramson said.
Abramson currently operates a private primary care practice in San Fransisco and works as a Hospitalist at California Pacific Medical Center. He is also certified in massage therapy and acupressure and practices Vipassana meditation regularly.
At California Pacific Medical Center, Abramson explained, some alternative therapies were added to standard hospital care.
"We're starting to use some alternative medicine in the hospital, such as acupressure, massage and guided imagery, mostly because patients demanded it," Abramson said. "It's very exciting to do things that are safe in combination with regular hospital care."
Abramson hopes that communication between conventional medical providers and alternative medical providers could be improved.
"There is a long tradition of conventional doctors sending notes back and forth to each other. I think building a culture where alternative providers could do the same would be helpful," Abramson said. "Right now, when I see patients who are also seen by a chiropractor, I would like a note about what they're doing."
"The more open and accepting the medical system can become, the more communication can happen," he added. "In reality, people are doing this (using alternative therapies) anyway, and it's important to know what they're doing."
In addition to the Center for Family Medicine's Integrated Medicine talks, other Integrative Medicine educational opportunities will soon be available to medical students at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences with the help of grant funds. Dr. Neena Thomas-Eapen will be participating in that project as part of the integrative medicine faculty from Minot's campus.