During my 20-plus years of practicing medicine, I’ve seen thousands of patients discover the benefits of integrative medicine. Sometimes the ones who benefit most are those who were so dubious to begin with that they would not even discuss alternatives to traditional medicine. Monica, for example, who I had been treating for more than a decade, was interested in only conventional remedies. She could not be bothered with lifestyle changes or nutritional supplements and made it clear that even taking a daily vitamin was “hogwash,” in her terms.
Not surprisingly, Monica began developing signs of aging fairly early, especially in her joints. When her shoulder pain began affecting her enjoyment of golf, her favorite activity, she took over-the-counter pain relievers. But after a few months, they weren’t doing the job, so she came to me for something stronger. After I explained the harm that traditional painkillers can cause — such as internal bleeding and problems with vision and hearing, to name just a few — Monica finally asked if I could suggest an alternative. You bet I could.
After a few weeks of taking supplemental omega-3s, Monica reported that her shoulder pain was nearly gone. “But here’s something I just want to pass on that has helped me, and maybe one of your other patients will find it useful,” Monica said in an email. “I’ve discovered that spending 5 or 10 minutes warming up my muscles makes a big difference. I found that putting heat patches on my shoulders and then doing stretches loosens up those areas. My golf game has improved, but the best part is that my shoulders don’t hurt. And I think the omega-3s are helping my other joints, where I don’t use patches. My knees were getting a bit stiff in the morning, but now they’re fine! Maybe next time I come in you can recommend some other natural alternatives.”
Monica now takes several supplements, and her health markers are considerably better than they were without them. As a doctor, I find it gratifying when patients like Monica open their minds to the possibilities of integrative healing and see how much difference it can make in their lives.